USCISWelcomesRefugeesand AsyleesM-1186 (11/19)

USCISWelcomesRefugeesand Asylees

USCIS Welcomes Refugeesand AsyleesU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS), part of the U.S. Department ofHomeland Security (DHS), welcomes you tothe United States as a refugee or asylee. Wevalue your skills and talents, and we want tohelp you settle into your community and besuccessful in your life in the United States. Wealso want to share information about how youcan become a U.S. citizen.This brochure will help you learn about gettingsettled in the United States and about therights, responsibilities, and importance of U.S.citizenship. Becoming a U.S. citizen gives youthe same rights as all Americans and builds asense of shared belonging for you and yourfellow citizens.Rights and ResponsibilitiesAs a refugee or asylee living in the UnitedStates, you have many rights, just like othersliving here. Some of these rights includefreedom of speech, freedom of religion, andfreedom of assembly.1

You also have responsibilities. In the UnitedStates, everyone must follow the law. You needto understand U.S. laws because they may bedifferent from the laws in other places youhave lived. Learning about American history,government, and culture will help you feel athome here.You have the right to: Live anywhere in the United States Work in the United States Leave and return to the United States undercertain conditions Attend public school until a certain age,according to state laws Apply for an unrestricted Social Securitycard Apply for a driver’s license or other formof government identification in your stateor territory Apply to become a lawful permanentresident and U.S. citizen once you areeligible Request that your spouse or unmarriedchildren receive asylum or refugeederivative status to live in the United States Report crimes or abuse to law enforcementand receive their assistanceYou have the responsibility and are requiredto: Request permission to return to the UnitedStates before you leave by applying for arefugee travel document, even if you are anasylee Obey all federal, state, and local laws Pay federal, state, and local taxes, ifapplicable2

Register with the Selective Service if you area male between 18 and 26 years old Inform USCIS of your new address no laterthan 10 days after you move Send your minor children to school Apply for lawful permanent resident statusafter 1 year in the United States if you are arefugeeGetting Settled in the UnitedStatesIn the United States, each level of governmentplays a different role in helping you get settled.You may come in contact with local, state, andfederal government offices during yourresettlement process.Contact your state refugee coordinator, staterefugee health coordinator, resettlement agencyor a local community-based organization thatworks with immigrants to help direct you to theappropriate government assistance program. Manygovernment assistance programs have time-limitedeligibility periods that begin from the date youwere granted asylum or admitted as a refugee.If you need help learning English, you can enrollin an English class. Check with your resettlementagency, public library, social service agency, orplace of worship to get information on Englishclasses and other classes and services.3

The Next Steps in YourImmigration ProcessIf you entered the United States as a refugeewithin the past 2 years or were granted asylumstatus within the past 2 years, you may petitionfor certain family members to join you here.You may petition for the following familymembers: Spouse Child (unmarried and under 21 when youfirst applied for asylum or refugee status)You must submit Form I-730, Refugee/AsyleeRelative Petition, to USCIS within 2 years ofbeing granted asylum or admitted as a refugee,or demonstrate humanitarian reasons forextending the 2-year period. This form isavailable at Permanent ResidenceA lawful permanent resident (Green Cardholder) is someone who has been grantedauthorization to live and work in the UnitedStates on a permanent basis. As proof of thatstatus, a person is given a Permanent ResidentCard, commonly called a Green Card. Acquiringa Green Card also puts one on the path to beingable to apply for full U.S. citizenship (more onthat below). Refugees must apply for a PermanentResident Card 1 year after arriving in theUnited States. Refugees must have 1 year ofphysical presence in the United States at thetime they file the application. Asylees may apply for a PermanentResident Card 1 year after being grantedasylum. Asylees must have 1 year of physicalpresence as an asylee in the United States atthe time they file the application.4

To apply for lawful permanent resident statusand get a Permanent Resident Card, file FormI-485, Application to Register PermanentResidence or Adjust Status. This form is availableat While there is a fee forasylees to file Form I-485, there is no fee forrefugees to file Form I-485. Community-basedorganizations, including your local resettlementagency, can help you with this process.RefugeesIf you are a refugee, you are required bylaw to apply for lawful permanent residentstatus 1 year after being admitted to theUnited States as a refugee.Apply for lawful permanent residenceFile Form I-485, Application to RegisterPermanent Residence or Adjust Status.Refugees do not pay fees to file Form I-485or for biometric services.You are eligible to apply if you: Have been physically present in theUnited States for at least 1 year afterbeing admitted as a refugee; Are physically present in the UnitedStates at the time you file your Form I-485; Are admissible to the United States asan immigrant; and Have not had your refugee statusterminated.Visit and for more information.Apply for U.S. citizenshipYou may qualify for naturalization if youhave been a lawful permanent resident for acertain number of years and meet all othereligibility requirements. Please visit for more information.5

AsyleesIf you are an asylee, you are eligible to applyfor lawful permanent resident status 1year after being granted asylum if you havemaintained residence the entire time, butyou are not required to apply.Apply for lawful permanent residenceFile Form I-485, Application to RegisterPermanent Residence or Adjust Status,and pay the appropriate filing and biometricservices fees.You are eligible to apply if you: Have been physically present in theUnited States for at least 1 year afterbeing granted asylum; Are physically present in the UnitedStates at the time you file your FormI-485; Continue to meet the definition of arefugee or be the spouse or child of arefugee; Are not firmly resettled in any foreigncountry; Are admissible to the United States asan immigrant; and Have not had your asylee statusterminated.Visit and for more information.Apply for U.S. citizenshipYou may qualify for naturalization if youhave been a lawful permanent resident for acertain number of years and meet all othereligibility requirements. Please visit for more information.6

CitizenshipCitizenship is the common thread that connectsall Americans. We are a nation bound not byrace or religion but by the shared values offreedom, liberty, and equality. By becoming aU.S. citizen, you will have a voice in how ournation is governed.Your conduct as a lawful permanent residentcan affect your ability to become a U.S. citizenlater. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen iscalled naturalization. You must meet all of theeligibility requirements to naturalize as a U.S.citizen.In general, after a certain number of years asa lawful permanent resident, you can applyfor naturalization. Refugees and asylees mayapply for naturalization 5 years after the date oftheir admission to lawful permanent residence.Asylees are admitted to lawful permanentresident status as of the date 1 year before theapproval of their Form I-485. Upon the approvalof their Form I-485, refugees are admitted tolawful permanent residence as of the date oftheir arrival in the United States.For a list of all naturalization eligibilityrequirements, visit Someof the requirements include the following:7

You need to be physically present in theUnited States for a certain period of time. You need to have continuous residence inthe United States. You need to have good moral character. You need to be able to speak, read, write,and understand basic English and have anunderstanding of U.S. history and government(civics). You need to support the principles andideals of the U.S. Constitution and bewilling to take an oath of allegiance to theUnited States.To apply for naturalization, file Form N-400,Application for Naturalization, online at You may also pay for Form N-400and your biometric fee online. There areexceptions and modifications to the naturalizationrequirements for those who qualify. USCIS alsoprovides accommodations for individuals withdisabilities. Many community organizations,such as local resettlement agencies, can helpyou prepare for naturalization.Certain benefits, rights, and responsibilitiescome with U.S. citizenship, including the abilityto vote in federal elections, serve on a jury,travel with a U.S. passport, compete for federaljobs, and become an elected official.8

Contact USCISVisit for additional information, tocheck your case status, or to find a USCIS office.You can call USCIS toll-free at 800-375-5283.For people who are deaf, hard of hearing orhave a speech disability, call TTY 800-7671833. Service is available in English and Spanish.You can also visit forthe USCIS Contact Center.USCIS ResourcesU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS)USCIS oversees lawful immigration tothe United States. Learn how to apply foryour Green Card, pursue U.S. citizenship,reunite with family, get permission to traveloverseas, and more.Resources for refugees and to the United States: A Guide forNew ImmigrantsThis guide introduces the basic information youand your family need for everyday life in theUnited States. It describes your rights andresponsibilities, suggests ideas for gettinginvolved in your local community, and helps youplan for applying for U.S. citizenship onceyou become a lawful permanent in the U.S.This webpage provides you with informationabout the United States, education andchild care, emergencies and safety, travelingoutside of the United States, employment,getting settled in the United States,government benefits, health care, andmoney and

USCIS ResourcesCitizenship Resource CenterThis website provides educational tools andinformation to help you prepare for ScamsIf you need legal advice on immigrationmatters, make sure the person helping youis authorized to give legal advice. Only anattorney or an accredited representativeworking for an organization recognized bythe U.S. Department of Justice can give youlegal find-legal-servicesFormsUse Form I-765 to apply for workauthorization, renew your authorization, or toreplace your Form I-730 to bring your spouse orchildren to the United Form I-131 to request permission toreturn to the United States by obtaining arefugee travel Form I-485 to apply for lawfulpermanent resident status if you are in theUnited Form N-400 to apply for Form AR-11 to ensure your address isupdated with

USCIS ResourcesmyUSCISFind up-to-date information about theapplication process for immigration benefits,tools to help you prepare for naturalization,and resources to find citizenship preparationclasses and doctors in your local community.Learn how to file an application or requestonline and access information about yourcase by registering for an online Federal ResourcesThe following chart provides additionalinformation about federal government servicesfor refugees and asylees.Federal Government ResourcesU.S. Department of Health and HumanServicesAdministration for Children and FamiliesOffice of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)If you are a refugee, asylee, and derivativefamily member, you may be eligible toreceive assistance and services throughORR. ORR funds and administers variousprograms that include cash and medicalassistance, employment preparation, jobplacement, and English language training.Many of these programs have time-limitedeligibility periods that begin from the dateyou were granted asylum or entered theUnited States as a refugee. You shouldexplore whether you qualify for any of theseprograms as soon as possible if you areinterested in any of them.State refugee coordinators/state refugeehealth grams-key-contacts11

Federal Government ResourcesState programs and viewHealth insurance housing lehousingEmployment Department of StateBureau of Population, Refugees, andMigrationReception and Placement ProgramIf you were approved for refugee status inthe United States, you were sponsored bya resettlement agency participating in theReception and Placement Program, whichis run by the U.S. Department of State. Thesponsoring agency is responsible for placingyou with one of its local offices and forproviding initial services, such as housing,essential furnishi