U.S. Law Center

How to apply for refugee status

There are several steps to take to qualify for refugee status in the United States. First, a person needs to qualify as a refugee under guidelines set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There are numerous qualifying factors, so people should read over them carefully.

While there is some doubt about how many refugees the United States will accept going forward, those seeking shelter in a new country should seek it out as a viable option. Seeking legal advice can help greatly in figuring out what to do to obtain this status. 

Contact the UN Refugee Agency

When a person qualifies as a refugee, the first action to take is to contact a UN Refugee Agency. If a family is unsure whether they qualify, then they could also get in touch with the non-profit organization to see if they do meet all the criteria. In the event a family cannot contact the agency, they should try getting in touch with a nearby United States Embassy. 

Fill out paperwork

If the UN Refugee Agency determines a family qualifies, then they would need to fill out paperwork provided by the USCIS. After submitting the files, the agency will determine whether to approve or deny the request for refugee status. When a family attains approval, everyone in the family, including immediate spouses and children who are younger than 21 years old, can enter the country. 

Political asylum status

In addition to becoming refugees, people also seek out political asylum. This is for those who already live in the United States. Under political asylum, a person cannot be forcibly removed and returned to his or her native country. There are several steps to take to attain this status, but anyone considering applying should bear in mind that most people need to have already been in the country for at least one year. The process for attaining asylum status is usually shorter than seeking refugee status. 

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