Earning a Green Card as a Refugee or Asylee

Those we are seeking protection or it is unsafe to stay in their home country can apply for U.S. permanent residency, also known as earning a green card.

Refugees and asylees can apply for a green card.

If you were… 

admitted to the United States as a refugee or a qualifying family member of an asylee

Then you may apply for permanent residence 

1 year after your entry into the United States

If you were…

granted asylum in the United States

Then you may apply for permanent residence 

Note: As a refugee, you are required by law to apply for permanent resident status 1 year after being admitted to the United States.  As an asylee, you are not required to apply for permanent resident status after being granted asylum for 1 year, although it may be in your best interest to do so.

Green Card for a Refugee 

If you were admitted as a refugee, you are required by law to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the United States 1 year after being admitted as a refugee. For more information on refugees, see The USCIS Humanitarian page.

Eligibility Criteria

You must apply for a green card 1 year after you are admitted to the United States as a refugee if you:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being admitted as a refugee
  • Have not had your refugee admission terminated
  • Have not already acquired permanent resident (green card) status

Application Process
To apply for a green card as a refugee, you need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Note: When permanent residency is granted, you will have your adjustment of status date recorded as the day you entered into the United States as a refugee.

Supporting Evidence For Form I-485
To apply for a green card, refugees should submit the following documents and information (in this order):

  • Form I-485, signed (Box “h” of Part 2 should be marked with the word “refugee” printed on the accompanying line)
  • Two photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner
    • Your name and A-number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo
    • Details on photo size, etc., may be found on the Form I-485 instructions
  • Form G-28, if applicable, signed by you and the attorney (or authorized representative)
    • Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives
    • However, you must sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application in the original
  • Form G-325A
  • Form I-693, signed by you and the civil surgeon, with only the vaccination portion completed
    • You may have the vaccination portion of the Form I-693 completed at any state or local health department or may choose to make an appointment with a civil surgeon designated by the USCIS to conduct medical examinations
    • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to locate USCIS-designated civil surgeons (doctors) where you live or see the “USCIS Civil Surgeons Locator” page.
  • A complete Form I-693 is required only if:
    • There were medical grounds of inadmissibility noted at the time of arrival in the United States
    • If the refugee status was granted to the individual in the United States by an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
    • If neither of these conditions apply, all that is required is the vaccination portion
    • For more information, see the “Finding a Medical Doctor” page.
  • Evidence of refugee status (This might include a clear, readable photocopy of Form I-94 or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document)
  • Proof of any legal name change you have obtained since you were granted refugee status

Family Application Process
You must prepare a separate Form I-485 application packet for each member of your family who wishes to obtain a green card.  All family members’ application packets should be mailed together in the same mailing envelope. To hold each application packet together, please use a single staple or a paper clip.

Change of Address
If your address changes, you must inform USCIS in writing within 10 days of moving.   This must be done for each family member.  Submitting a change of address for the head of household or a single member of the household only will not change the address for the other family members.  You may meet this requirement by:

  • Mailing Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, to the address on the form
  • Completing “Step 1” on the form (see the “USCIS Online Change of Address” page.)

Green Card as an Asylee 

If USCIS granted you asylum status, you are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) 1 year after receiving your grant of asylum. Your spouse and children are also eligible to apply for a green card if they were admitted to the United States as asylees or were included in your grant of asylum.

You are not required to apply for a green card; however, it may be in your best interest to do so. You may no longer qualify for asylum status with the right to remain permanently in the United States if:

  • country conditions change in your home country or
  • you no longer meet the definition of an asylee due to changed circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria

If you are an asylee, you may apply for a green card 1 year after being granted asylum if you:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being granted asylum
  • Continue to meet the definition of a asylee (or continue to be the spouse or child of such asylee)
  • Have not abandoned your asylee status
  • Are not firmly resettled in any foreign country
  • Continue to be admissible to the United States (A waiver may be available to you if you are now inadmissible)

Application Process

To apply for a green card, you must file the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.

Note: When your green card is granted, you (and your derivative family members) will have your date of adjustment of status rolled back 1 year from the date your green card is granted.

Supporting Evidence For Form I-485

If your asylum status is granted, you should file a Form I-485 with the following supporting documentation (in this order):

  • Completed and signed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Completed and signed Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record, if required. For more information, see
  • Applicable fees
    • Asylees must pay the Form I-485 application fee and the fingerprint fee
    •  Applicants under the age of 14 do not need to submit a fingerprint fee
  • Completed and signed Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability (if applicable)
  • Copy of your I-94 card
    • Asylees may also submit a copy of their approval notice granting asylum or a copy of the immigration judge’s orders showing that you were granted asylum
  • A completed Form G-325A, Biographic Information Sheet, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
  • Certified copies of court records (if you have been arrested)
  • Two passport-style photos

Note: You must submit any foreign language documents with a certified English translation. The translator must certify that he/she is competent to perform the translation and that the translation is accurate. Note that translations submitted without a legible copy of the foreign document are not sufficient.

Family Members of Asylees

The USCIS asylum program accepts new Form I-589 applications from derivative asylees (spouses or children of a principal asylee) who no longer meet the definition of a spouse or child of the principal asylee in order to provide such individuals with a way to become a permanent resident.  For more information, see our Humanitarian page.

Note: In certain cases, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. To determine if the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) applies to you, see our Child Status Protection Act page.

Family Application Process

You must prepare a separate Form I-485 application packet for yourself (the principal asylee) and for your spouse and each child who received derivative asylee status if they also want to obtain a green card.

You may submit several different application packages in the same mailing package. To hold each application packet together, please use a single staple or a paper clip.

Change of Address

If your address changes, you must inform USCIS in writing within 10 days of moving.

You may meet this requirement by:

You should NOT mail the AR-11 to the correct address AND complete the online change of address.

While your asylum application is pending with the Asylum Office, you must ALSO notify the Asylum Office within 10 days after you change your address in one of the following ways:

  • Complete “step 2” of “on the online form (see the “Change My Address” link to the right)
  • Mail an original or copy of Form AR-11 to the Asylum Office
  • Mail a letter with your old and new address information to the Asylum Office
  • Provide your new address to the Asylum Office in-person
  • Provide your new address to the asylum officer at your interview
  • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283

 

Information provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Information provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
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