How to Apply for Permanent Residence If You Are an Asylee or Refugee

A person who has refugee or asylee status in the United States for more than one year may be eligible to obtain permanent residency (a green card.) Form I-485 is the one used to adjust the status of asylee to that of a permanent resident. The applicant must have been physically present in the United States as a refugee or asylee for no less than one year prior to filing Form I-485. The form must be submitted with the following documentation as part of the application:

  • The I-485 form is completely filled.
  • The I-765 form is completely filled out to obtain a work permit if you don’t already have one or it’s expiring.
  • The cost of the application. ($1,010.00 for people 14 and older; $600.00 for children under 14.) There is no cost for filing Form I-485 for the person who was admitted to the United States as a refugee.
  • A G-28 form signed by the attorney (or authorized representative) and the applicant.
  • Two (2) photos of the applicant. The applicant’s name and case number (A#), if known, should be written in pencil on the back of each photo. Details about the size of the photos, etc., can be found in the form instructions.
  • The G-325A spreadsheet. (if the applicant is 14 years of age or older).
  • Proof of your refugee or asylee status. Evidence could include a copy of Form I-94 or a legible copy of the letter or order granting asylum. If the applicant was given conditional asylum, he or she has to present evidence to show that the conditions have been removed.
  • Form I-602, Refugee Waiver For Being Excludable, if applicable in your case.
  • Proof of one year of physical presence in the United States. Evidence could include a letter of employment, a lease, school tuition records, or similar documentation, covering a long period of time.
  • Prove any absences from the U.S. since you have been granted asylum. For example: photocopies of refugee travel document pages or passport.
  • Birth certificate or other birth registration.
  • Proof of any name changes you have obtained since asylum was granted.
  • • The I-693 Form (Medical Exam.) Only a doctor appointed by the CIS can do a medical examination for the purpose of filling out this form.

Derivative Asylee If you are filing an application for permanent residence as an asylee who was granted derivative asylum, you have to prove that your relationship with the top asylees still exists. When you apply, put the “A” number of your spouse or parent who is the primary one who was granted asylum and include:

  • Proof of the relationship with the principal (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce/death of current or former spouse, birth certificate proving that the principal is father/mother.)
  • A copy of the letter granting derived asylum, either for having been included in the principal’s asylum application or as a beneficiary of an I-730 petition filed by the principal.

If they were granted political asylum stemming from the fact that the child of an asylee and who is now over 21 years old and are not married, you should contact the nearest asylum office and request information on filing a “nunc pro tunc” asylum application (using Form I-589) Obtaining Residency as a Refugee Form I-485 is used for the application for permanent residence or Adjustment of State. Applicants must have been physically present in the United States as a refugee for at least a total of one year prior to filing Form I-485. There is no cost for the I-485 in this category. Refugees must file Form I-485 with the following supporting documentation (in this order):

  • The cost for fingerprints (this cost applies to applicants who are 14 years of age or older.)
  • I-485, signed, with box “h” in Part 2 marked with the word “refugee” written on the line that accompanies it.
  • 2 passport-style photos in an envelope with staples in the lower left corner. The applicant’s name and case number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo.
  • Form G-28 signed by the attorney (or authorized representative) and the applicant.
  • Form G-325, signed, (if the applicant is 14 years of age or older).
  • Vaccination “Form I-693”. A completed Form I-693 (which includes Form I-693 and its supplement) is required only if:
  • there are grounds for medical inadmissibility stated when I arrive in the United States or
  • whether refugee status was granted to the immigrant in the U.S. by a Form I-730. If none of these conditions apply, all that is needed is to complete the list of vaccines. The refugee applicant may have the form completed at any local or state health department, or may choose to make an appointment with a USCIS-designated civil surgeon to conduct the medical examinations. Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to locate the civil surgeons (doctors) where you live.
  • Proof of refugee status. This could include a clear, legible photocopy of Form I-94 or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document.
  • If necessary, Form I-602, Application for Refugee Exemption for Reasons of Exclusivity.
  • Proof of one year of physical presence in the United States. Present evidence of physical presence with the slightest possible evidence. Tests may include a letter of employment, a lease, school enrollment record, or similar documentation, covering an extended period of time.
  • Proof of any absence from the U.S. since your admission as a refugee. For example: photocopies of refugee travel document pages or passport.
  • Birth certificate or other birth registration.
  • Proof of any name changes you have obtained since being granted refugee status.

Application for travel and work permit You can file the following forms along with your I-485:

  • If you want to work while your application is being processed, you can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. More information can be found at How do I get a work permit?
  • If you wish to travel outside the U.S. (and return) while your application is being processed, you can use Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to request a refugee travel document. More information can be found in “Emergency Travel, and How do I get a travel document?

Each of these applications must be completed in its own right. They are not always processed together with the I-485. So, submit all the required documentation with each application at once. Note: If you have already received a work authorization or refugee travel document as an asylee or refugee, it is not necessary to apply for a new authorization until 90 days before the expiration date on the document you already have. If you apply for a work authorization and do not receive the document within 90 days of submitting the application, you can obtain a work authorization document. After 90 days have passed, simply present the receipt showing that you have filed Form I-765 at your local Immigration office. How to File an I-485 application package must be prepared for the primary applicant and for each of the spouses and children that derive from the primary applicant’s refugee or asylee status. Application Packages must be assembled in the order described above and each Package must be separated. Several application packages can be presented in the same email. It is requested, however, that they be identified. For example, put together all the applications related to the “Perez Family”, all the applications related to the “Ruiz Family”, etc. Any document in a foreign language must be presented with an English translation certificate. The translator must certify that he/she is competent to perform the translation and that the translation is correct. Please note that translations submitted without a legible copy of the foreign document are not sufficient.