How to Get a Green Card for Asylum

If you have a genuine fear of persecution in your home country, you may be able to apply for asylum in the United States. If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establishes that your fear is valid, you may be granted asylee status.

Then, after some time, you may be granted a green card if you file a petition requesting adjustment of status. This article covers everything you need to know about obtaining this green card.

Key Takeaways

  • You must have been granted asylum by the U.S. government to apply for a green card.
  • You can sponsor eligible family members as the primary applicant.
  • ‘Asylee’ and ‘refugee’ are two different individuals.
  • You may not need to attend an interview if green card asylum is approved.

In immigration petitions, the term ‘asylum’ describes a judicial concept that allows individuals who have been persecuted by their own rulers to seek protection by another sovereign authority.

Who Is an Asylee?

In this context, an asylee is an individual who has already traveled to the U.S. border or entered the United States either lawfully or unlawfully and would like to seek protection from persecution. Such an individual might fear persecution based on race, religion, social group, political affiliation, or nationality, among other characteristics. 

How to Get an Asylum Green Card

Having an asylum status does not necessarily mean you will be granted a green card. However, individuals who have been granted asylum can apply for a green card if they meet certain eligibility requirements. 

Asylum Green Card Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a green card as an asylee, you:

  • must properly file Form I-485 to adjust your status from an asylee to a lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder;
  • must be physically present in the United States when filing Form I-485;
  • must be physically present in the United States for at least a year after the date you were granted asylum in the US;
  • must continue to meet the definition of a refugee or be the spouse or child of a refugee;
  • must prove that you have not firmly resettled in any foreign country;
  • must prove that you did not breach the terms of your asylum and that it has not been terminated;
  • are admissible to the U.S. for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility, or any other form of relief; and
  • merit the favorable exercise of discretion.

What to Include in Your Adjustment of Status Application

If you meet the eligibility requirements for applying for a green card for asylum, you will need to submit other supporting documents along with your application, as discussed below.

The first thing you will need is your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Make sure the form is correctly filled out. 

If you qualify for a waiver, you must fill out Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver

Next, you must prove your asylee status. This document was issued to you when the United States government granted you asylum. However, note that this is not the document issued to you when you first applied for asylum. 

The USCIS will send you a receipt when you apply for asylum, which allows you to live in the United States until when the USCIS is ready to review your petition and invite you for an interview to discuss your asylum petition. 

Asylum proof could be any of the following:

  • A copy of the letter showing the date you were granted asylum;
  • Proof of the immigration judge’s decision;
  • Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record that shows the date you were granted U.S. asylum.

In addition to the above documents, you must prove that you have lived in the United States for at least a year and provide two passport-style photographs. 

Lastly, you must provide copies of the following documents:

  • Government-issued identity document (must have your photograph);
  • Your birth certificate, if available;
  • Passport page with nonimmigrant visa, if available;
  • Passport page with admission or parole stamp, if available. This stamp is usually issued by a U.S. immigration officer;
  • Medical examination record (you will need to fill out Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to provide this information);
  • Certified records from courts and the police showing any charges, arrests, or convictions against you, if applicable.

The instructions above apply to individuals who have been granted asylum in the United States. If you are the child or spouse of such an individual, you may also be eligible for an asylum green card. 

Eligibility for Green Card

When you apply for a green card as a family member of an asylee, you will be considered a derivative applicant. This means that your eligibility is based on your familial relationship with the asylee. 

However, it is also important to note that you do not automatically qualify for a green card just because you are related to the asylee. Instead, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, as discussed below. 

To be eligible for an asylum green card based on your familial relationship with the asylee, you must:

  • properly file form I-485 for adjustment of status;
  • be the spouse or child of the principal applicant and also meet the definition of a refugee; 
  • have been granted asylum either by filling out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal or as a following-to-join beneficiary of an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition that the principal applicant filed;
  • have been physically present in the United States at the time of filing form I-485; 
  • have been living in the United States for at least a year since being granted derivative asylum;
  • have maintained your asylum status since being granted, meaning the U.S. government did not terminate your asylum;
  • be admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility; and
  • merit the favorable exercise of discretion.

After filling out your application for a green card based on your familial relationship with the principal applicant, you will need to submit the application to the USCIS with additional documents, as discussed below. 

You must pay the correct filing fees. Fill out Form I-913 if you qualify for a waiver. You must also provide evidence of your asylum status, which could be:

  • A copy of the confirmation letter
  • Proof of immigration judges’ decision 
  • Your Form I-94
  • An approved I-730 petition filed on your behalf, showing the dates you were granted asylum as a derivative

In addition, the USCIS will need the following: 

  • Proof that you have lived in the United States for at least one year since being granted asylum;
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Your government-issued picture ID;
  • Copy of your birth certificate, if available;
  • Copy of your passport page with your nonimmigrant visa, if available;
  • Copy of your passport page with admission or parole stamp (this is usually issued by a U.S. immigration official)
  • Form I-693;
  • Certified copies of police, court, or conviction records, if applicable;
  • Form I-602, if applicable.

Asylum Green Card Filing Fee

The filing fee for an asylum green card varies. Because these fees are constantly changing, it is always advisable to check the correct filing fee via the USCIS website.

Generally, you’ll need to pay $1140 to file Form I-485 and an additional $85 as a biometric service fee. 

You can also apply for a waiver if you cannot afford the filing fee. Applying for a waiver will not affect your green card application if you are an asylum seeker. This is because asylees are not required to pass the public charge test.

The public charge test is designed to verify that you can financially care for yourself and your loved ones when you obtain a green card. This test ensures that you will not be a public charge, meaning you will not rely on government assistance if granted a green card. 

Submitting Your Green Card Application to the USCIS

Once you have filled out all the required forms and provided all supporting documents, you will need to create an immigration filing packet. It is advisable to include a cover letter in the filing packet that shows a list of documents included in the application. 

Also, do not submit any original documents unless requested by the USCIS. When done, mail the filing packet to the USCIS.

Biometrics Appointment

When the USCIS receives your application, they will review it and send you a notice of your biometrics appointment. The notice will include the appointment’s time, date, and location. 

The USCIS official will take your photo, signature, and fingerprint during the appointment. Then, they will send your fingerprints to government security agencies such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to verify your identity and whether you have been involved in any crimes.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Green Card Processing Time

After completing and submitting your asylum application, you might have to wait up to 40 months for the USCIS to review and process it.

However, it is important to note that the processing time varies depending on factors such as government backlogs, policy changes, and so on. For this reason, the USCIS has an online tool you can use to check the estimated processing time for your application. 

Here is a detailed guide on how to check the status of your immigration petition.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Green Card?

Although you do not necessarily need to apply for a green card if you have been granted asylum in the United States, applying for one comes with many benefits. Some benefits of an asylum green card include: 

  • Access to immigration benefits reserved for green card holders;
  • Ability to file for U.S. citizenship in the future;
  • Freedom to travel outside of the United States with an advance parole. Be sure to speak with an experienced ;immigration attorney from a reputable immigration law firm before traveling outside the country. You may be required to pay legal fees;
  • You may be able to sponsor certain family members for green cards.

Green Card as an Asylee FAQs

What is the Difference Between Asylum Seekers and a Refugees?

An asylum seeker is someone who has arrived in the country seeking protection from persecution in their country of origin. On the other hand, a refugee is someone recognized under the 1951 Refugee Convention as a refugee. 

You will be considered a refugee if you have been granted asylee status. Before that, the USCIS considers you an asylum seeker whose case has not yet been determined. Only after the interview will the USCIS decide whether to grant you refugee status. 

What Does It Mean to ‘Merit the Favorable Exercise of Discretion’?

This term simply means that you are worthy of favorable consideration as an applicant, usually by an immigration official, immigration judge, or any other relevant authority. 

What Does the Term ‘Derivative’ Asylum Mean?

The term ‘derivative asylum’ means that your asylum eligibility derives from someone else’s status. For example, if you are the spouse or child of an individual who has been granted asylum (derivative family members), you might be eligible for derivative asylum. 

Are Asylees Required to Attend a Green Card Interview After Being Granted Asylum? 

In most cases, asylees are not required to attend an interview to obtain a green card. This is because they must have attended an interview to be granted asylum status. Therefore, there would be no need for another interview. 

This, however, depends on the specifics of that particular application. If the USCIS determines that the applicant must attend an interview, they will be notified.