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Understanding the asylum and refugee process

There are many reasons why immigrants may want to become permanent residents in the United States. While many believe this is for work or new opportunities, this is not the only reason. For some immigrants, they are working tirelessly to escape persecution in their home country. Obtaining asylum does not only help immigrants avoid these devastating hardships but also opens the door for the ability to live a healthy, safe and positive life.

Those seeking asylum are known as asylees. And those filing for asylum are seeking resettlement and permanent status in the U.S. While obtaining asylum status could be very beneficial, those applying for asylum must go through a process to obtain approval. First, those seeking refugee status must receive a referral through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and once this is received, assistance with the application and interview phase is provided. On the other hand, those seeking asylum status must file and application with USCIS. If the applicant is not in a removal proceeding, he or she can proceed with the interview process.

The interview process in both matters determines eligibility of the applicant. If the application is granted, an applicant is provided documentation of his or her status as an asylee or refugee. When this status is granted, the applicant is also authorized to work in the country. Additionally, once this status is obtained, it is technically indefinite. However, changes in circumstance could result in the termination of their status; thus, it is vital to understand when and how this could occur.

No matter what reason you are seeking refugee or asylum status, it is important to understand if your circumstances make you eligible. Even if your application is not initially approved, it is possible to seek reconsideration. Thus, obtaining legal assistance in these matters is very valuable as it can help immigrants navigate the difficult and confusing U.S. laws they are not accustomed to.

Source: Findlaw.com, "The Asylum Process," accessed Dec. 2, 2017

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