Permanent Residence/Green Card
- Why should refugees and asylees apply for permanent residence?
Refugees are required by law to apply for permanent residence one year after their entry as refugees. Asylees are not required to apply for permanent residence, but they are eligible to submit an application a year after asylum was granted. It is in the best interest of the majority of refugees and asylees to become permanent residents. It is the first step on the road to U.S. citizenship. In addition, having a green card, which is the most widely recognized document issued to non-citizens, makes it easier to prove eligibility for employment and a driver’s license, opens immigration possibilities for relatives, and simplifies travel.
- I was arrested several weeks after I arrived in the U.S. as a refugee. Would I have any problems getting a green card?
You must consult an immigration attorney or an accredited representative from a non-profit agency recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals before you file your application. You should file your application only after a thorough evaluation by a qualified legal professional.
- What does the process of applying for a green card involve?
When eligible, the applicant for permanent residence needs to file the USCIS Form I-485 and the Biographical Information Form G-325A with the appropriate USCIS Service Center. Refugees need to provide proof of necessary vaccinations, and asylees are required to undergo a full medical examination. These medical reports are prepared on Form I-693 by USCIS-designated civil surgeons and are submitted with the application in a sealed envelope. Photos taken according to USCIS specifications are also required at this time.
For detailed and updated filing information and to download the required forms go to the USCIS Web site. If you need assistance, you may contact a reputable non-profit service provider in your area.
- Are refugees and asylees required to pay any fees for the application?
Refugees are not required to pay any fees. Asylees, who are under 14 or over 80, pay only the processing fee and are not required to pay the biometrics fee, and asylees under 14 applying with at least one parent pay a reduced processing fee. At this time, all other asylees are required to pay $1,010. Please check the USCIS Web site for the most updated information.
- I am an asylee, and I cannot afford to pay the fees for the application for permanent residence. What should I do?
If you are unable to pay the fee, you may apply for a fee waiver. You may use Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, especially designed to facilitate the process of determining the applicant’s eligibility for a fee waiver. You’ll need to document your income and expenses and prove your inability to pay.