Tifton Refugee & Asylum Lawyer
Refugee and asylum are two different ways people may be granted entry to the United States based on persecution or fear of persecution in their home country. This persecution or fear can be based on the individual’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Whether one seeks asylum or refugee status depends on a couple of factors, including most importantly whether the person is inside or outside of the U.S. at the time of seeking protection.
From our office in Moultrie, Georgia, the refugee & asylum lawyers at Shirazi Immigration Law can help you understand the difference between refugees and asylum seekers. We can determine whether you are eligible for refugee or asylee status, and we can prepare and file all the necessary applications to get you and your family safe. Call our Moultrie office at 229-520-8875 for a consultation with a caring and dedicated immigration attorney.
What Is a Refugee?
A refugee is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act as “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
Being required to abort a pregnancy or undergo forced sterilization, or being persecuted or having a well-found fear of persecution for refusing to accept such procedures, falls within the refugee definition on account of “political opinion.”
In some special circumstances specified by the President, a refugee could also be a person who meets the above definition but is currently residing in their home country. In most cases, however, a refugee is someone who has already left their country of nationality and is seeking entry to the U.S. as a refugee.
Notably, a person is NOT considered a refugee if they “ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
How Do Refugees Find Refuge in America?
A person who meets the legal definition of refugee and is of special humanitarian concern to the United States may apply for protection in the U.S. as a refugee. Refugee status is only available from outside of the United States. If you meet the definition of a refugee but are already in the United States or are seeking admission at a port of entry, then you would apply for asylum instead.
The first step to gaining refugee status is getting a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Every year, the president sets the overall admissions level for refugees along with regional allocations and which areas are of special humanitarian concern to the U.S. Depending on whether your referral comes from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a U.S Embassy, an NGO or some other source or if you are resettling for the purpose of family reunification, you might receive priority consideration for admission as a refugee. Although the annual limit for refugees was set quite low under President Trump, the cap is being raised significantly by President Biden so there should be enough room for all who meet eligibility as a refugee.
Other aspects of the refugee admissions process include a medical exam and cultural orientation. You can receive financial and logistical support for your travel to the U.S. and be eligible for further medical and cash assistance upon arrival. You can also arrange to bring your spouse, children and certain other family members with you.
Refugees can get a work permit and a Green Card, enabling them to live and work in the U.S. permanently without fear of deportation. Refugees can travel outside the U.S. and return, provided they obtain a refugee travel document.
How Is Asylum Different?
If you came to the U.S. due to persecution or a well-found fear of persecution based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, getting asylum status will allow you to continue to remain in the United States. You must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the states. As with refugee status, there is no fee to apply, and you can include your spouse and children on your application. Asylum applicants can apply for employment authorization (work permit) while their application is pending. Once granted asylum, asylees are authorized to work in the U.S. with or without an employment authorization document (EAD). Applying for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) is optional for asylees, but it is mandatory for refugees.
Help With Refugee and Asylum in Tifton
If you are seeking admission to the U.S. due to persecution or fear of persecution in your home country, or if you are already here in southern Georgia and fearful to return to your country of nationality, call the Moultrie immigration law office of Shirazi Immigration Law. We’ll determine whether you are eligible for asylum or refugee status and take care of all necessary arrangements to help ensure you are welcomed into the U.S. as an asylee or refugee. Call 229-520-8875 for a consultation to find out how we can help.