People who are being persecuted or on the verge of being persecuted frequently come to the United States searching for a safe haven. BUT… There are many difficulties and burdens that you must bear in order to flee your country.
UNFORTUNATELY, the fight does not CEASE when you abandon your country; it still continues even when you seek a safe haven in another country.
Hi there! My name is Andres Mejer, Immigration Attorney and an immigrant myself. In today’s episode, I’ll go over the steps on how to obtain a green card as a Refugee.
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Now let’s get into it.
- The United States government has recognized individuals who have fled from their home country to the United States in order to seek refuge from past or future persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. That process is called asylum.
- IN ADDITION, the US government grants Permanent Resident Card/status (or Green Card) to those granted refugee status in the country. How ever what about if you are not in the U.S. to request refugee status?
So… Who may apply for refugee status?
The basic condition for someone to qualify for refugee status is that they are unwilling or unable to return to their own country owing to prior prosecution or a warranted fear of future persecution.
The prosecution must be well-founded threats, which may be brought by the following reasons:
- Membership In A Particular Social Group,
- OR Political Opinion.
Now… Who may NOT apply for refugee status?
There are also some people who may be PROHIBITED from applying for a Refugee status. Take note on the following IF:
First… You have assisted in the persecution of another.
If you have incited, ordered, or assisted in threatening or oppressing someone else because of their race, religion, political opinion, etc… you may not be eligible as Refugee.
Second… You threatened US safety or security.
If you are a danger to the US or have commited serious crimes, you may not be granted Refugee status.
Those who have also been involved in terrorism or a serious non-political crime outside America will NOT be granted Refugee status.
Now… How can one apply for refugee status?
In order to be granted refugee status, you must be deemed eligible for a refugee interview by the United States Refugee Admissions Program or USRAP.
ADDITIONALLY, Prioritization is used by the USRAP.
For example, the refugees who have been recognized and recommended to the program by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a U.S. embassy, or a certified nonprofit organization are given first priority.
In addition, those in groups of particular humanitarian concern or those needing to be reunited with family, are also put into consideration.
NOW… Here are the TWO steps to jumpstart your journey towards a refugee status:
Step 1: To begin your application, go to the nearest appropriate office or agency.
If you feel you are qualified, you must contact the nearest UNHCR office or your local U.S. Consulate. It would also be advantageous if you had family in the United States who could call the local refugee resettlement agency for guidance and assistance in completing the relevant forms in support of your application.
On the other hand, if you obtain a referral from USRAP, a U.S. State Department-funded Resettlement Service Center (RSC) will assist you in completing a refugee application.
Please keep in mind that there is no application fee, and the information you supply will be kept confidential.
Step 2: Prepare for an interview.
IF you are found to be eligible, you will THEN be interviewed by a USCIS officer. Based on your responses or stories, the officer will assess if you are eligible for refugee relocation.
The officer will also determine IF you meet the definition of a refugee, what prioritization bracket you are in, and whether any issues would prevent you from entering the United States.
REMEMBER that the officer will rely heavily on your story or answers, as well as documents (if any), to back up your claims. ALSO…the current situation of your origin country will be factored in.
Assuming that the interview was a success, the RSC (Resettlement Support Center) will proceed in checking your background and schedule you for a medical examination.
BUT…What should you do if your application for refugee status is denied?
If your application for refugee status is denied, you are free to reapply as many times as you like.
While there is no formal appeal available, you may file a Request for Review to the Resettlement Support Center in your area.
TAKE NOTE, however of that the request can only be made once.
While there is no filing fee, the request must be made within 90 days of the date of the denial notice.
The language that will be used in the request is English. This means that you have to fill out the request form in English AND that the supporting documents that are in another language must be translated into English.
ADDITIONALLY, you must clearly explain why the officer who interviewed you was incorrect to dismiss your case or present fresh evidence that might persuade the agency to alter its decision.
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Now let’s get back to it. Since we know how to get a Refugee status… Let’s discuss the steps to get a green card as a Refugee.
Before you may apply for a green card, you must first meet a required minimum time as a refugee.
You can apply for a green card one year after you are granted refugee status, and not before.
Please REMEMBER that as soon as you satisfy this requirement, you should immediately apply for adjustment of status because IF the DHS deems that the conditions in your origin country have changed, then your refugee status may be revoked.
So… How can you Adjust your status to be a permanent resident?
Here are two steps for you to follow:
Step 1: Prepare your Adjustment of Status Application
In adjusting your status, you must secure and fill out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
You’ll also need to include additional supporting documents, such as medical examination documents from a USCIS-approved physician.
AFTER you have completed all of the paperwork, you must mail them to either the Phoenix or the Dallas lockbox, depending on the state in which you live.
When the USCIS receives your application, it will send you a receipt notification. In addition, if the USCIS requests further information or proof, they will issue you a Form I-797E, Request for Evidence.
Step 2: Attend your Adjustment of Status Interview
You will be notified of the interview at least two weeks in advance. You must prepare for and anticipate a personal interview with a USCIS officer. These interviews are often conducted at the nearest USCIS office to you.
During the interview, you must explain why you are still afraid of returning to your origin country from which you left. You must give supporting documents or facts to strengthen your argument.
Keep in mind that you are NOT ALONE in your search for a safe refuge in the United States. You can call us today if you need an experienced immigration attorney to advocate for you and discuss your case.
And that’s all for today’s episode.
IF you find this video informative, then like and share it with your friends who are also applying or are thinking about getting a green card.
And if you have any ideas for future videos or would like me to talk about a particular immigration-related topic, go ahead, and let me know in the comment section down below.
Until next time, stay healthy and be safe.