What Is the Difference Between Refugee and Asylee Status?

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Oftentimes, refugee status and asylee status are mistakenly used interchangeably. Notably, there are key differences that set the two apart. Continue reading to learn what the difference is between refugee status and asylee status and how an experienced asylum immigration lawyer in Milwaukee, WI from Sesini Law Group, S.C., can help you in obtaining the appropriate one.

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylee?

By definition, a refugee is an individual who is outside of their country and who is unable or unwilling to return due to fear of persecution for their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, or otherwise.

Then, an asylee is an individual who meets a similar definition to that of a refugee, but they must already be present in the United States or be seeking admission at a port of entry. With that being said, the main difference between a refugee and an asylee is that a refugee is granted their status while still outside of the U.S., while an asylee is granted their status after entering or seeking entrance to the U.S.

Unique from refugees, an asylee must apply for employment authorization once their application for their status is approved. Also unique is that an asylee may apply for a green card one year after their application for their status is approved, and apply for citizenship four years later.

However, a similarity shared between refugees and asylees is that they have a right to remain in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time or until it is safe for them to return to their home country.

How can I obtain refugee status?

First, a refugee must be referred to the United State Refugee Admissions Program. And if they are found eligible for this status, they must follow the below process:

  1. Submit your application to the Resettlement Support Center, where all your biographical information will be gathered.
  2. Attend an in-person interview with a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) refugee officer.
  3. Ensure that the Resettlement Support Center will request “sponsorship assurance” from different community-based organizations.
  4. Take a course on cultural orientation.

How can I obtain asylee status?

To obtain a Green Card as an asylee, you must follow the below process:

  1. Complete Form I-485 (i.e., the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
  2. Submit filing fees for Form I-485 and for the biometric service.
  3. Submit relevant evidence (i.e., approval notice granting asylum, immigration judge’s order granting asylum, any recent legal name changes, etc).
  4. Ensure that your application is being processed by the USCIS.
  5. Ensure that you receive a receipt notice of your Form I-485.

For more information, we recommend that you consult with a skilled family immigration lawyer in Milwaukee, WI.

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