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Best Asylum Lawyer

Asylum is a form of protection that allows individuals who are in the United States to remain here, provided that they meet the definition of a refugee and are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum, and eventually to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.Every year, thousands of people come to the United States in need of protection because they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Those found eligible for asylum are permitted to remain in the United States.Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified refugees who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year (with the exception of individuals whose claims are based solely on persecution for resistance to coercive population control measures).

Asylee or Refugee Seeking Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status

Overview

A refugee or asylee may apply for permanent resident status in the United States (U.S) one year after being granted asylum or refugee status. If you are a refugee, you are required by law to apply for permanent resident status one year after being granted/entering the U.S. in refugee status. If you are an asylee, you are not required to apply for permanent resident status after being granted asylum for one year. However, it may be in your best interest to do so.

What are the basic requirements to apply for permanent resident status as an asylee or refugee?

If you are a refugee, you may be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are admitted to the U.S. as a refugee and you:

  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year after being admitted as a refugee;
  • Or to be the spouse or child of a refugee;
  • Have not abandoned your refugee status; and
  • Have not had your refugee admission terminated.

If you are an asylee, you may be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum and you:

  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year after being granted asylum;
  • Continue to meet the definition of a refugee;
  • Have not abandoned your status; and
  • Are not firmly resettled in any foreign country.

To apply for permanent resident status, file the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. Please read the instructions on the form and follow them carefully.Please see below for specific instructions on how to file.If you move, please send a letter to the office where your case is pending as follows:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87865
Lincoln, NE 68508-7865

or

USCIS Texas Service Center
P.O. Box 850891
Mesquite, TX 75185-0891

Please note that only address changes will be processed at these addresses. Non-address change inquiries received at these P.O. Boxes cannot be answered. Be sure to include your A- number or your case receipt number. Also note that, for cases originally filed at the Nebraska Service Center but later transferred to the Texas Service Center, change-of-address notification should be sent to the Texas Service Center.Also, be aware that notifying the Center of an address change for a pending application DOES NOT satisfy the requirement to notify the Service of your whereabouts.You must also send Form AR-11 to the address listed on the form to meet your legal requirements for reporting a change of address. Instructions for that notification can be found on this same website under the link: "Immigration Forms, Fees, and Fingerprints" in the upper left corner of the home page.While your I-485 is pending, you are permitted to travel outside the U.S.; however you must have a valid Refugee Travel Document to reenter the country. You can apply for a refugee travel document by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Due to new security procedures, allow 150 days prior to beginning travel to obtain a travel document.As an asylee, you are authorized to work in the United States incident to your status. If you wish to receive a document from USCIS that can serve as evidence of both your work authorization and identity, file Form I-765 with the service center that serves your location. Allow for a 75-day processing time.For all other inquiries, call the National Customer Service Center at 1 (800)375-5283.

Derivative Asylees

If you are filing for adjustment as an asylee who was granted derivative asylum status, you must prove that your relationship to the principal asylee still exists. When filing, give the A-number of your spouse or parent who was granted asylum and include:

  • Proof of the relationship (for example: marriage certificate, divorce/death certificates for any current or prior spouse, birth certificate showing principal alien as your parent)
  • A copy of the letter granting you derivative asylee status either on the basis of having been included on the principal's original asylum application or on the basis of having been the beneficiary of an I-730 petition filed by the principal.

If you were granted derivative asylee status as the child of an asylee and you are now over age 21 and are unmarried, you should contact the nearest asylum office and request information on filing a "nunc pro tunc" asylum application (using Form I-589). You may apply for adjustment of status after you have been physically present in the United States for a period of one year after the date you were granted asylum status.Each of the above named applications must be complete in its own right. They are not always processed with the I-485. Therefore, please submit all required documentation with each concurrent application.Please note: If you have already been issued work authorization or a refugee travel document as an asylee or refugee, you do not need to apply for new authorization until 90 days prior to the expiration date on the document you already have.If you apply for work authorization and do not receive the document within 90 days of filing the application, you may obtain an interim work authorization document. After 90 days have passed, simply present the receipt that shows you have filed Form I-765 at your local office.

How to File

A separate I-485 application packet must be prepared for principal applicant and, if applicable, for each spouse/child who derived asylee or refugee status from the principal.Application packets should be assembled in the order described above. To hold each application packet together please use a single staple or a strong paper clip.Several different application packages may be submitted in the same mailing. It is requested, however, that units be identified. For example, rubber band together all applications pertaining to the "Jones" family, all applications pertaining to the "Smith" family, etc.Any foreign language documents must be submitted with a certified English translation. The translator must certify that he/she is competent to perform the translation and that the translation is accurate. Note that translations submitted without a legible copy of the foreign document are not sufficient.

Asylees Filing for Permanent Resident Status

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used to adjust the status of asylees to that of a permanent resident. Applicants must have been physically present in the United States in asylee status for at least a total of one year prior to filing the Form I-485.The asylee should file a Form I-485 with the following supporting documentation (in this order):

  1. Fingerprint fee (this fee applies to applicants who are from 14 years of age or older)
  2. I-485 filing fee
  3. G-28, if applicable, signed by the attorney (or authorized representative) and the applicant. Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives. However, applicants must sign the Form G- 28 submitted with the application in the original.
  4. I-485, signed. Box "d" of Part 2 of the application should be marked. If the applicant is an Iraqi who processed through Guam, also write "IRAQI/GUAM" in the margin.
  5. 2 photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner. The name of the applicant and A-number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo. Details on photo size, etc, may be found in the form instructions.
  6. Evidence of Asylee Status. Evidence might include a copy of Form I-94 and a clear, readable copy of the letter granting asylum. If alien was initially given conditional asylum, submit evidence to show that the conditions have been removed. See Resistance to Coercive Population Control (CPC) Programs for more information.
  7. I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability, if applicable
    Evidence of one year's physical presence in the United States. Please keep physical presence evidence to an absolute minimum. Evidence might include a letter of employment, a lease, school enrollment records, or similar documentation, which would cover broad periods of time.
  8. Proof of any absences from the U.S. since you have been granted asylum. For example: photocopies of pages in refugee travel document or passport.
  9. Birth Certificate or other birth record
  10. Proof of any legal name change you have obtained since you were granted asylum status
  11. I-693 Medical with Vaccination Supplement. Only a civil surgeon designated by USCIS to conduct medical examinations may complete the Form I-693 and the vaccination supplement submitted with it. Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to locate civil surgeons (doctors) where you live.

Refugees Filing for Permanent Resident Status

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used to adjust the status of refugees to that of permanent resident. Applicants must have been physically present in the United States in refugee status or have held derivative refugee status for at least a total of one year prior to filing the Form I-485. There is no filing fee for the I-485 in this category.The refugee should file a Form I-485 with the following supporting documentation (in this order):

  1. Fingerprint fee (this fee applies to applicants who are from 14 years of age or older)
  2. I-485, signed. Box "h" of Part 2 should be marked with the word "refugee" printed on the accompanying line.
  3. 2 photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner. The name of the applicant and A-number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo. Details on photo size, etc, may be found in the form instructions.
  4. G-28, if applicable, signed by the attorney (or authorized representative) and the applicant. Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives. However, applicants must sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application in the original.
  5. Vaccination "Supplemental Form to I-693." A complete Form I-693 (which includes the Form I-693 and its supplement) is required only if:
    1. there were medical grounds of inadmissibility noted at the time of arrival in the United States or
    2. if the refugee status was granted to the alien in the U.S. by an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.
  6. Evidence of refugee status. This might include a clear, readable photocopy of Form I-94 or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document.
  7. I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability, if applicable
  8. Evidence of one year's physical presence in the United States. Please keep physical presence evidence to an absolute minimum. Evidence might include a letter of employment, a lease, school enrollment records, or similar documentation, which would cover broad periods of time.
  9. Proof of any absences from the U.S. since your admission as a refugee. For example: photocopies of pages in refugee travel document or passport.
  10. Birth Certificate or other birth record
  11. Proof of any legal name change you have obtained since you were granted refugee status.

Payment Information

  • The total fee remittance must be correct for the USCIS to accept the I-485 for filing.
  • If one check is submitted to pay for all applications, the check should be attached to the top left-hand corner of the first form in the package. If a separate check is submitted for each application, the check should be attached to the top left-hand corner of the corresponding application.
  • Applicants should be aware that when one check is submitted to pay for multiple forms, all applications will be rejected if the check is not in the correct amount, or if any form has inadvertently been left unsigned.

Where to File

All asylum adjustment applications and all refugee adjustment applications should be mailed directly to the Nebraska Service Center. Any concurrently filed Form I-131 (Travel Document) and/or Form I-765 (Employment Authorization) should also be mailed to the Nebraska Service Center.

However, if your employment-based Form I-485 has been transferred to a local USCIS office, file your Form I-765 at the Service Center from which your Form I-485 was transferred.

When to File

You may apply to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident Status:

  1. When you have been physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of one year after the date you were granted asylum status or
  2. When you have been physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of one year after your admission into the United States with refugee status, whichever is applicable.

Filing for Travel and Work Documents

While your I-485 is pending, you are permitted to travel outside the U.S.; however you must have a valid Refugee Travel Document to reenter the country. You can apply for a refugee travel document by filing Form I-131(ADD LINK TO FORM I-131), Application for Travel Document. Due to new security procedures, allow 150 days prior to beginning travel to obtain a travel document.

As an asylee or refugee, you are authorized to work in the United States incident to your status. If you wish to receive a document from USCIS that can serve as evidence of both your work authorization and identity, file Form I-765 with the service center that serves your location. Allow for a 75-day processing time.

Notifying USCIS of a New Address

If you move, you are required by law to inform us of your change of address by completing a Form AR-11. The AR-11 is used by non-U.S. citizens to meet the legal requirements of informing USCIS of any change of address. Presently, completing an AR-11 does not update your address on any pending case.

If you have an application pending, you will also need to call customer service at 1-800-375-5283 to report your change of address and get the address on the pending application/petition changed. While calling customer service updates the address on your pending case, it does not meet the legal requirement of completing an AR-11

Feel free to visit attorney Kamal Nawash for a consultation.