US Citizenship and Immigration Services

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Immigration for family members of asylum seekers and refugees

Immigration for family members of asylum seekers and refugees

Given the current state of the world and the problems in progress across the globe, it is not uncommon for people to try to come to the United States as refugees or by seeking asylum. In Pennsylvania, people who are already in the U.S. under these rules will also be thinking about the safety of their family members. For those who have come to the U.S. as a refugee or are given asylum (called asylees), it is important to know the rules for bringing family members and which ones can legally come to the U.S. For these difficult circumstances, it may be useful to have legal assistance to navigate the process.

Family members eligible for petition and the criteria
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows a refugee or person who was granted asylum and entered the country in the previous two years to petition for family members to also be admitted under similar status. There is a limit to which family members are eligible. Only a spouse or a child who is under 21 and unmarried at the time can legally join the person in the U.S. The person who is trying to bring family members to the U.S. cannot have obtained their status through a relative – they must be the principal.

The person must still be under that status or have been given a Green Card as a permanent resident. It is important to remember that if a person who came to the U.S. as a refugee or asylee and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, this option is unavailable to bring relatives to the U.S. For naturalized citizens, there are other steps that can be taken for family-based immigration that might be effective. The familial relationship must have been in place prior to the person being granted asylum or being admitted as a refugee. Getting married after the fact is not sufficient and the child must have been conceived or born prior to being granted that status.

Asylees and refugees should know the rules about bringing family member
Seeking safety and freedom is a frequent catalyst for people to try to enter and live in the U.S. as asylees and refugees. Often, their goal is not just to find safety and prosperity for themselves, but for their families as well. While still under this status, it is imperative to understand this area of immigration law.