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Becoming a refugee in America something that many citizens of foreign countries seek. The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to foreigners fleeing persecution and war. Although it has seen notable reductions in the number of refugees, it remains an available path for those who need it.

Generally, refugees are individuals fleeing political turmoil or war in their home country. Although most of these return home when it is safe, others settle in the U. S. 

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) contributes largely to this. In other cases, the decision of a U. S. embassy or another organization that offers humanitarian aid is involved.


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How To become a Refugee In America?

To request refuge in the U. S. you must be outside of this country. Additionally, you must have been referred to be considered as a refugee applicant in the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

If you are referred, you will be provided assistance in completing your application. Afterwards, a USCIS representative will conduct an interview abroad to evaluate your refugee eligibility.

international refugees

During the interview, USCIS examines all relevant evidence, including testimony, to determine if you:

  • Meet the definition of a refugee.
  • Qualify under a designated processing priority.
  • Are not firmly established in a third country.
  • Are otherwise admissible under U. S. law.

For eligibility, USCIS evaluates the person’s credibility and takes into account conditions in the country of origin. They also carry out security checks.

When Can I Go To America As A Refugee?

If your entry as a refugee is approved, the following will be carried out:

  • A medical examination, 
  • You will be given cultural orientation, 
  • Assistance with travel arrangements, and 
  • A loan for your move to the United States. 

Once you are in this country, you will be eligible to receive medical and financial assistance. For more information about this area, call us or consult the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Who Can Request Refuge In The United States?

Under United States law, a refugee is considered a foreigner who:

  • Is not in the United States.
  • Is of special humanitarian interest to the U. S.
  • Demonstrates having been persecuted or fears persecution for reasons of:
    • Race, 
    • Religion, 
    • Nationality, 
    • Political opinion, or 
    • Belonging to a specific social group.
  • Has not resettled in another country.
  • Eligible for admission to the United States.

Any individual who ordered, incited, aided, or participated in the persecution of someone else will not be considered eligible for refuge.

What Is The Difference Between Political Asylum And Refuge In The United States?

The main difference is that asylum in the United States is requested once a foreigner has arrived in the country. On the other hand, refuge is sought outside the U. S, before entering. However, both offer protection to those facing persecution or conflict in their home countries.

How Can I Bring My Family To The United States As Refugees?

If you are a refugee in the United States, you have the option of filing Form I-730, Petition for Refugee/Asylee Relative, intended for:

  1. Your spouse, or 
  2. Your unmarried children under 21 years of age. 

This form must be filed with USCIS within two years of arriving in the United States. Although there are significant humanitarian reasons, you may have some exceptions to this deadline.

Additionally, you may be eligible to file an affidavit of family relationship for:

  • Your spouse, 
  • Unmarried children under 21 years of age, or 
  • Parents. 

This form is used to reunite refugees with their loved ones accepted for refuge outside the United States. On the other hand, the affidavit collects information about family relationships and is to begin the application process. 

family based immigration

If you cannot apply for your family to obtain refugee status, but you are an American citizen, you can still help your family immigrate. Please review our article: “Family-based immigration

What To Do After Obtaining Refuge In The United States?

During the first 90 days, resettlement agencies collaborate with state and local governments and community organizations to assist newcomers. Additionally, refugees receive additional examinations by medical professionals in their new communities.

  • The acquisition of English becomes a crucial step in achieving self-sufficiency. 
  • Agencies facilitate refugees’ enrollment in English courses at their local offices or help families find nearby classes. These agencies provide services to provide support and care to refugees.
  • All parents receive information about school options and caseworkers help enroll their children in school.
  • Agencies establish contacts with local employers to offer job opportunities. 

Once adapted to their new environment, refugees tend to flourish and actively contribute to their communities. This allows them to build careers, purchase homes, establish businesses, and become American citizens.

Are you looking for information on how to become an American citizen without speaking English? In our blog we clear up all doubts on this topic.

Can I Go To The United States As A Refugee To Work Legally?

As a refugee, you will have the ability to start working immediately upon arrival in the United States. To do this, you will do so using the Form I-94 that you should have received when you entered as a refugee. 

Additionally, the process of Form I-765, application for employment authorization in order to obtain an EAD, will begin. While waiting to receive your EAD, you may submit your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. This will serve as evidence that you have authorization to work in the United States.

How Long Does The Process To Obtain Refuge In The United States Take?

The process to obtain refuge can take several months. Additionally, USCIS takes 5 to 15 months to process refugee work permit applications.

If you would like a personalized evaluation of your case, contact our immigration attorneys in Los Angeles .

What Do I Do If I Have To Travel And I Have Refugee Status?

If you plan to travel outside the United States, you will need a refugee travel document to ensure you can return to the country. Failure to provide this document prior to your departure could result in denial of re-entry into the United States. 

If you decide to return to the country you fled, you will need to explain how you managed to do so safely.

How Many Refugees Are There In The United States?

Since 1975, the United States has received more than three million refugees from various parts of the world. In fact, in a UNHCR report, it was revealed that in 2023, the United States was the world’s largest recipient of refugee applicants. This figure reached 540,600 requests. 

refugee with US flag

Refugee resettlement, through USRAP, provides a long-term solution for those who have fled persecution. Under President Biden’s administration, admissions remain capped at 125,000 through 2024. This reflects the country’s commitment to the global displacement crisis. 

USRAP has admitted more than 3.2 million refugees, highlighting the United States’ critical role in: 

  1. Humanitarian protection, and
  2. Promote global stability.

Refugee Facts And Statistics In America

By the end of 2022, 108.4 million individuals experienced forced displacement worldwide due to: 

  • Chases, 
  • Conflicts, and 
  • Violence. 

This figure includes at least 35 million refugees, 62 million displaced people and 5.2 million in need of international protection. The latter mainly from Venezuela.

On the other hand, in May 2023, the figure exceeded 110 million, marking the largest annual increase in forced displacement in UNHCR history. This was driven by the war in Ukraine and other international conflicts.

Among the places with the most refugee seekers are:

  • Republic of Chad, 
  • Cameroon, 
  • Niger Republic, 
  • Sudan,
  • Venezuela,
  • Honduras, 
  • El Salvador,
  • Guatemala.
  • Türkiye,
  • Germany,
  • Iraq,
  • South Sudan,
  • Uganda,
  • Ethiopia, 
  • Kenya.
  • Syria, 
  • Lebanon, 
  • Jordan.
  • Bangladesh, 
  • Malaysia,
  • Ukraine, and
  • Yemen.

Do Refugees Have Rights In The United States?

As a refugee, you have various rights in America, just like other residents of this country. Among these rights are the following freedoms:

  • Expression, 
  • Religion, and 
  • Meeting. 

However, you also have responsibilities. In the United States, everyone is required to comply with the laws. Therefore, you must acquire knowledge about American history, the government, and culture, which will help you feel comfortable here.

Rights You Have As A Refugee in America

  • Live anywhere in the United States.
  • Work in the United States.
  • Leave and return to the U. S. under certain conditions.
  • Attend public school up to a certain age, according to state laws.
  • Apply for a Social Security card without restrictions.
  • Obtain a driver’s license or other type of government identification in your state or territory.
  • Apply to become a lawful permanent resident and U. S. citizen once you are eligible.
  • Request that your spouse or unmarried children receive derivative asylee or refugee status to live in the United States.
  • Report crimes or abuses to law enforcement agencies and receive their help.

Responsibilities As A Refugee in America

  • Request permission to return to the United States before leaving, by applying for a refugee travel document.
  • Obey all federal, state and local laws.
  • Pay federal, state and local taxes, as applicable.
  • Register with the Selective Service if you are a man between the ages of 18 and 26.
  • Inform USCIS of your new address within 10 days of moving.
  • Send your minor children to school.
  • Apply for lawful permanent resident status after one year of being in the United States, if you are a refugee.

How To Apply For The Green Card Through The Refuge Relief In The United States?

If you are admitted as a refugee, you must apply for a Green Card within one year after your arrival in the United States. To begin this process, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Lawful Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status

Refugees are exempt from the I-485 processing fee, but must pay the biometric fee.

how to get a green card

For more information about this, visit our articles “How to get a Green Card” and “Consular processing” because if you are abroad, you may be eligible for this immigration relief. 

How Are Refugees Investigated In The United States?

The most rigorous path to enter the United States is through refugee status. In fact, refugees are subjected to more extensive vetting compared to others seeking to enter the country. 

All those who wish to come to the United States must initially be registered by the United Nations (UN) refugee agency. The U. S. then carefully screens each admitted individual.

The vetting process for refugees can take several months. In addition, it is supervised by U. S. government authorities. For example: 

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 
  • Department of Defense (DOD), and 
  • Various security agencies. 

The resettlement program in the United States prioritizes refugees, generally families who are victims of violence. 

Do Refugees Pose A Danger To National Security?

Of the more than three million refugees accepted by the United States in recent decades, some were involved in terrorist acts. This is according to a study by the CATO Institute. 

Of the 192 foreign-born terrorists who committed attacks in the U. S. between 1975 and 2017, 25 were refugees. Additionally, most of the recent attacks were carried out by American citizens, such as:

  1. The Orlando shooter in 2016, and 
  2. The perpetrators of the San Bernardino attacks in 2015. 

Because of this, the Trump administration expressed concern about refugee vetting processes. On the other hand, the Biden administration sought to improve the efficiency and fairness of the process. This was as part of his commitment to leadership in global refugee resettlement.

If you committed an immigration crime, you may still qualify for some immigration relief. However, you must qualify for one of the different immigration waivers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Refugee in America

What do refugees do for the United States?

Refugees contribute billions of dollars in taxes annually and exhibit outstanding entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, many of these manage to obtain American citizenship and have their own residences or businesses in this country.

What happens to my family if I request refuge in the United States?

If you are granted refugee status, your family members named in the application will also be granted refuge. However, the latter must be eligible for it.

How many refugees can enter the United States?

Currently, the number of refugees who can enter the United States is 125,000 individuals.

To which states are refugees sent? 

Currently, refugees are resettled in all 49 states of the United States. Although, Texas, California, New York, Kentucky and Washington have received the most

Lawyers To Process Refuge status In The United States

At Lluis Law, our lawyers have been serving immigrants for more than 40 years and helping with all types of procedures. If you need to carry out a refugee process in the United States or have any questions about the subject, call us.

At our firm, we have experienced lawyers in representing these immigration processes. Here, we will help you with any matter regarding U. S. immigration law or criminal defense. Contact us today.


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