Rules and Regulations for Refugees and Asylum Seekers Who Want to Become Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States

Calendar Icon Updated January 15, 2019
Green Cards

Due to the unstable environment that refugees and asylum seekers are trying to escape from, rules and regulations pertaining to them gaining permanent resident status are different than from other ways to get a Green Card.

By definition, refugees are people who are already in the United States who cannot return to their native country due to national upheaval, a fear of prosecution due to religious or societal prejudices, or any other compelling reason that puts the person in harm’s way. Similar conditions apply for asylum seekers, except they have not yet entered the United States. 

Refugees can apply for permanent status one year after they are admitted to the U.S. as long as they have been physically in the country for at least one year after admittance as a refugee. They must also be able to show proof of being admissible to the US. as an immigrant and have not had their refugee status terminated.

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Asylum seekers may be able to obtain permanent status one year after being granted asylum if they have been in the U.S. for a year or more after being granted asylum. They must also be admissible as an immigrant to the country and must not have firmly resettled in another foreign country.

To apply for a Green Card as a refugee or an asylee, you must complete Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, a vaccination Form I-693, Form G325A, Biographic Information Sheet and if you are represented by an attorney, you must also file Form G-28 Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative. You’ll also need to submit evidence of your refugee status, two passport style photos, and proof that you have lived in the United States for at least one year prior to submitting your application.

As a refugee, you do not have to pay any fees to file an application. However, any documents in a foreign language will need to be translated into English prior to be submitted for review. 

After you submit your application package, USCIS will schedule you for a biometrics appointment to take your fingerprints, get a copy of your signature and take a photo. This information will be cross checked against a series of databases to make sure you have no criminal or immigration issues pending.

If there are questions of any sort regarding your application, you may be called in for an interview. After this interview, if needed, USCIS will send you a written decision on your application. 

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If you are granted a Green Card, your adjustment of status date will be the day you came into the United States as a refugee. This date is important because it counts as one year toward your minimum five year requirement on the path to naturalized U.S. citizenship.

Eligibility Team

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