To apply for a green card and adjust your status to lawful permanent resident you have to live in the United States for one year since your grant of asylum. If you were the primary applicant, and your spouse and children obtained a derivative grant of asylum through you, they are also eligible to move from asylum status to green card at this time.
In case of a divorce, a derivative spouse may file a separate application for asylum through USCIS Form I-589 and have it approved retroactively (nunc pro tunc). Once the nunc pro tunc application is approved, the divorced derivative spouse of an asylee may submit the application for adjustment of status.
The one year period during which you are required to stay in the United States starts from the date when you got your final approval of asylum. If you want to start working while waiting for a green card, you need to obtain an Employment Authorization Document. To do so, you need to file Form I-765 with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In this article, we will present everything you need to know about moving from asylum status to green card and why it is important to apply for permanent residence as soon as possible.
Benefits of moving from asylum status to green card
Although asylees are not required to apply for legal permanent resident status to continue their life and work in the United States, it is in your best interest to apply for a green card as soon as you become eligible. This way you will obtain many benefits that are not available to asylees.
One of the main benefits that are only available to legal permanent residents is becoming a naturalized United States citizen. Also, the United States government may revoke your asylee status along with your right to stay in the United States if:
- The conditions in your country change in a way that is safe for you to return (for example, a change of ruling political party).
- You no longer qualify as an asylee. This may happen if, for example, your religious or political opinions have changed over time, so you would no longer be persecuted if you returned to the country from which you had claimed fear of persecution.
How to apply for a green card as an asylee
There are several conditions you must meet in order to apply for a green card:
- You must continue qualifying for asylum status – This means that the circumstances under which you had been accepted under asylum status in the United States must remain unchanged. In other words, you must fear persecution from your home country on account of a protected ground.
- You must continue to be admissible to the United States – To get the asylum green card approval, it is mandatory for you to have physically spent one year in the United States. In addition to that, you must continue to be admissible to the United States. The grounds of inadmissibility include certain types of contagious diseases, criminal convictions, drug abuse, prior law violations, and involvement in terrorism. However, in some instances, you may apply for a waiver. To do so you need to file USCIS Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability along with your green card application. Certain violations of immigration laws that would make other types of applicants inadmissible are forgiven to people that are granted asylum, such as entering the United States illegally or with false documents. The public charge inadmissibility ground also does not apply to asylees.
- You must maintain your asylum status and not resettle elsewhere – It is highly mandatory to be physically present in the United States if you wish to get an asylum green card approval. You must avoid visiting your home country before you get an asylum green card approval. Otherwise, USCIS will interpret that as a sign that you don’t need asylum protection. Also, if you receive a grant of permanent residence, citizenship, or another benefit from some other country other than the United States or your home country, you will not be able to apply for the United States green card. If, however, it is necessary for you to travel abroad before you get your asylum green card approval, you need to file for a refugee travel document. You should file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document before you leave the country.
What documents you need to apply for a green card
You need to mail Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status to USCIS and pay the requisite fees. Here is the list of supporting documents you need to mail along with the Form I-485:
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record
- Evidence that shows that you have asylee status – Copy of your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, USCIS asylum approval notice, or a copy of the Immigration Judge’s orders granting you asylum
- Proof that you have been physically present in the United States for the last year, such as government bills, medical bills, home lease documents, etc.
- Two passport-size photographs
It is critical to make sure that each document in a foreign language includes a complete translation into English.
How to apply for a green card for your family members
To apply for a green card, your spouse and children must have been in the United States for at least a year after they were granted derivative asylum. You need a separate Form I-485, along with supporting documents we have already talked about, for each member of your family. You must also submit:
- Copy of your marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children
- Proof that you are an asylee or that you have a green card
Keep in mind that your derivative family members can apply independently, even if you are yet to apply.
What happens after you file for a green card
After you file your application, you will have to wait to receive a written notice to visit an Application Support Center for your biometrics appointment. There you will have your fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken. Using this information, USCIS will run a background check on you.
Most legal permanent status applications do not require an interview. However, you may be called for an interview at your local USCIS office some months later if there are questions about your eligibility or application. It is very important to bring originals of all the documents you submitted, as well as their official English translations. Within a few months after the interview, you will receive a written decision regarding your application.
If you find yourself facing problems with your application, remember that it is very important to have strong legal representation. Contact immigration lawyer Chicago if you need any guidance with your immigration case.