While asylees are similar to refugees in their legal classification, the experience of the individual who comes to the United States can be totally different, and therefore it is important to draw distinctions between the two, and for the purposes of this post to share how the I-485 adjustment process works when one is seeking asylum in the United States.
Legal definition: An asylee—or a person granted asylum—is protected from being returned to his or her home country, is authorized to work in the United States, may apply for a Social Security card, may request permission to travel overseas, and can petition to bring family members to the United States. According to the American Immigration Council, one of the leading expert groups on matters of immigration, asylum is also a “protection granted to foreign nationals already in the U.S. or arriving at the border who meet the international law definition of a refugee”.
Once an asylee is in the United States, that individual will need to meet the following eligibility requirements in order to eventually apply for their I-485 towards a green card:
- You must be physically present in the United States at the time of your filing of the I-485 adjustment
- You have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year before filing your I-485
- You still meet the definition of a refugee at the time of filing, or you are a spouse or child of a refugee who is filing
- Your grant of asylum has not been terminated by the Department of Homeland Security or the State Department
- You are either eligible for LPR status, or in the event that you are not, are willing and able to provide a waiver of inadmissibility (Form I-602 Waiver).
Considerations at the time of filing
As mentioned in the refugee guide for adjusting ones status, it’s a good idea for asylees to look at the I-602 Form to make sure they will be admissible for a green card. The list of boxes from Page 2 to Page 3 of Form I-602 are particularly relevant.
In addition, asylees unlike most other I-485 applicants can have their adjustment fee waived if they fill out the Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. The most important thing an applicant should do when filling out this Fee Waiver is use the space provided in the form to clearly explain in writing what an applicants financial/living/work situation is, in order to make the case as clear as possible that paying the adjustment fee will be a burden. This form is available on the USCIS website and also here: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-912-pc.pdf
Additionally, here is a list of evidence and documentation that one should submit if they are an asylee filing their I-485 application:
- A copy of your passport page with your admission/parole stamps
- A copy of your Passport Photo ID and Passport #
- Proof of your grant of asylum status, such as a copy of a letter, a decision made from an immigration judge, or an I-94 Form that shows proof of being granted asylum
- Your I-602 Waiver of Inadmissibility if you have met any of the conditions that were mentioned on Page 2 and 3
- Medical and Vaccination Exam records
In addition to asylees themselves, derivative family members can also be eligible to adjust their status and become LPRs, provided they have also been granted lawful derivative asylum status, and the principal applicant that is ones parent/partner still meets the definition of a refugee at the time of the derivative asylee I-485 application.
As such, derivative family members need to also have been present in the U.S. for a period of one year before filing their I-485, they must not be inadmissible in the same ways as mentioned above (and are allowed to file a Form I-602 if necessary), and must also have their medical records and vaccinations in order.