Refuge in the United States How to obtain it?

portada refugio en estados unidos

Shelter in the United States.

As mentioned above, the United States is a country with a long history of immigration, so much so that we can say that the United States is a country made up of migrants, many of whom arrived through the Bering Strait, arrived from Europe, came from Asia, and originated in the South.

Those who have arrived, continue to arrive and will continue to arrive from all over the world have largely been refugees, seeking to escape the unfavorable socio-political conditions in their countries of origin. #1

This 2021 has been no exception to this tradition of hosting refugees. U.S. President Joe Biden announced an increase in the annual quota of refugees the country takes in to 62,500, up from 15,000 under the previous administration #2, under this figure we can affirm that we are in a good time to acquire refuge in the United States.

A refugee is a person who is outside the United States and is seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, or political opinion, is someone who is outside the United States and has not resettled in another country.

An individual who is considered to have this status represents a special humanitarian concern to the U.S., and measures are in place to assist him or her. (if you are seeking protection, but you are inside the U.S. or at the entrance of the U.S., the indicated figure is “asylum”, about which you can find information in our article on the subject).

Under U.S. law, a refugee is a person who:


  • It is outside the United States.
  • It is of special humanitarian concern to the United States.
  • You show that you have been persecuted or that you fear persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because you belong to a certain social group.
  • He has not settled in another country.
  • Eligible for admission to the United States.

A refugee does not include someone who has ordered, incited, aided, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

Process for acquiring refugee status

In order to apply for refugee status in the United States, one must first receive a referral to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This can be granted by a U.S. embassy, an authorized non-governmental organization or by contacting the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR/UNHCR), the latter being the most commonly used and recommended. (for more information on the selection criteria click here).

Upon receipt of the reference:

  • Someone will help you fill out the application, no fee is required.
  • You will be interviewed by an agent of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). During the interview, relevant evidence, including testimony, will be examined to determine whether the applicant: Qualifies under a designated processing priority, Meets the refugee definition, Is not firmly settled in a third country and is admissible under U.S. law.
  • The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with your home country.
  • You may include your spouse, children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) and, in certain limited circumstances, other members of your family on the application.

You can get more information at the following link.

Upon approval:

  • A medical examination will be performed.
  • It will go through a cultural orientation.
  • Someone will help you plan your trip and if necessary a loan will be provided to travel to the United States.
  • After arriving in the U.S., you will be eligible for medical and monetary care. (for more information on benefits click here)
  • You will be able to begin working immediately when you are admitted to the U.S. You will receive a Form I-94 with a refugee admission stamp. In addition, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, will be processed for you to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

How to Apply for Permanent Residency for Refugees (Green card)

If you are admitted as a refugee one year after arriving in the United States, you will need to apply for a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card. To apply for permanent residence, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or for Adjustment of Status. Refugees do not have to pay a processing fee, but they have to pay the data fee.

Documents required to apply for a Green Card

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • Evidence of one year of physical presence in the U.S.
  • Two passport size photos.
  • Copy of a government issued photo ID.
  • Copy of the passport page with the non-immigrant visa.
  • Copy of passport page with admission stamp or entry permit (issued by a U.S. government immigration officer).
  • Certified police and criminal charge records.
  • Copy of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record or copy of the admission stamp or entry permit placed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on your travel document (if applicable).
  • Form I-693, Medical Report and Immunization Record.
  • Copy of your birth certificate.

This type of process does not require the intermediation of an attorney.