You may apply for refugee status in your home country if you are the victim of persecution by the government or a group in that country or if you have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future. Economic hardship does not make you eligible for refugee status.


As an applicant applying for refugee status, you must show that you have not permanently resettled in another country and that you have a U.S. sponsor before your application can be approved.

There is an annual quota set each year for refugees, which varies by country. In addition, refugee applications can take several months to a year or more for approval.




Regardless of your status, if you are already in the United States and fear returning to your country due to a credible fear of persecution, you may be granted political asylum. Applications for Asylum must be filed within one year after your arrival to the United States, unless you can show “changed circumstances” which have a major effect on your eligibility for asylum, or “extraordinary circumstances” for failing to apply within the one-year time limit. Changed circumstances have to do with changes in your country, which may now make you eligible for asylum; extraordinary circumstances are circumstances that are beyond your control, which caused the late filing.


Unlike refugees, a person applying for asylum does not need a financial sponsor. There is no quota set on the number of asylum applications. An asylum application can take from months to a year or more before approval is granted. An asylum seeker may ask for asylum for his or her spouse and children who are physically present in the United States. The unmarried child must be under 21 years of age.


What is Persecution? Generally, persecution means that there exists a serious threat to your life or freedom. You may be eligible for refugee or asylee status by demonstrating that you are the victim of either past persecution or you have a “well-founded” fear of future persecution based on one of five bases: race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion.

Green Cards for Refugees and Asylees: One year after refugees enter theUnited States, they may apply for their green cards. Asylees may apply for their green cards 1 year after they are granted asylee status. There is a quota of 10,000 green cards per year for asylees. This quota can lead to a long wait for asylees. While you wait, if the conditions in your home country change favorably, your asylee status may be revoked. It is always a good idea to try and obtain your green card a different way, such as through marriage or employment, for which no quota exists.

Hart Immigration provides immigration services in Los Angeles, Orange County, and surrounding areas.

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