If you are an asylee, you can adjust your status to legal permanent residence (“green card”) with the USCIS one year after having been granted asylum. You can also submit petitions to sponsor your family members – spouse, minor children, and unmarried adult sons and daughters for legal permanent residence in the US.
To apply for adjustment of status, you (the asylee) should prove that you
- have been physically present in the US for one year after having been granted asylum and are in the US when filing the application for adjustment of status;
- remain an asylee (with a “well-founded fear of persecution,” etc.);
- have not resettled in any foreign country;
- have not abandoned asylee status;
- are not “inadmissible” or warrant a waiver of applicable grounds of “inadmissibility”; and
- have not lost your asylee status.
You have to file the following documents with the USCIS:
- Form I-485 and appropriate fee (or fee waiver request);
- 2 passport style photographs;
- Copy of a government-issued identification card that has your photograph;
- Evidence of asylee status (copy of I-94 and letter granting asylum or decision by Immigration Judge);
- Copy of birth certificate (if available) with translation, if required;
- Copy of pages from your passport that show admission or parole stamp or any absences from the US;
- Proof that you have been living in the US for the last year (such as a copy of a lease, bills, pay stubs, or receipt of government benefits);
- Medical report from a USCIS approved doctor – Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This form may be submitted with your adjustment of status application or later when the USCIS asks for it;
- Records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (if applicable); and
- Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability (if applicable).
As an asylee, you need not prove that you are not “likely to become a public charge.” Even if you have been receiving means-tested benefits such as public assistance or SSI, this will not prevent you from qualifying for a green card as an asylee. You can also request a waiver of the filing fee for the adjustment of status application if you can prove that paying the fee would result in financial hardship.
After filing, you will receive an interview notice along with a medical examination form that you will have to get completed as instructed. If you entered the US with fraudulent documents (such as a passport purchased on the black market), you will also have to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility through Form I-602.
Although your asylee application and supporting documentation are part of the package that has to be filed with the USCIS, the asylum green card interview will entirely focus on eligibility for adjustment to permanent residence and not on the underlying asylum claim. Not all asylee adjustment applicants will have interviews. Decisions on some applications are adjudicated merely on paper by mail.
A legal permanent resident (green card holder) can apply for naturalization (Form N-400) to become a US citizen five years after becoming a permanent resident. Once an asylee is granted adjustment to permanent residence, the wait to apply for naturalization is reduced to four years because the one year in asylee status counts towards the five years. Citizenship, the highest immigration status in the US. has many advantages when compared to being just a legal permanent resident. This final step (becoming a citizen) in the immigration process could take five years or more from the date you file the asylum application.