Do you qualify for refugee status in the United States?

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) refers to those that have been forced to flee their original country as refugees. Much like any other category of immigrant wishing to settle in the U.S., the federal government limits the number of refugees it allows to enter the country on an annual basis.

The typical immigrant often comes to the U.S. looking to lead a more prosperous life. In contrast, those entering the country as refugees seek to resettle in the U.S. as a way to escape either past or future prospects of persecution. Generally, the latter type of immigrant risks being persecuted against because of their religious or political affiliation, race, belonging to a certain social sector or their national origin.

Those attempting to resettle in the U.S. because they’re fleeing either civil war or natural disaster in their native country generally do not qualify for refugee status. Instead, a person who qualifies to enter the U.S. as a refugee may have been previously labeled as falling into one of the protected categories as determined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

A person that qualifies for refugee status is generally not yet present in the U.S. In contrast, those seeking asylum may already be.

Eligibility for refugee status is generally enhanced in one of three different ways. In some cases, the U.S. Embassy, UNHCR or some type of nongovernmental organization recommends that an individual be awarded entry under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

In other instances, individuals belonging to certain at-risk groups or who already have a family member living in the country as either an asylee or refugee may be prioritized.

While the USRAP generally tries to process applications for refugee status quite quickly due to the precarious situations applicants find themselves in, it’s not always possible to do so because of the number of applicants they receive. There is an expedited processing program in place with added criteria to qualify. The respective Resettlement Support Center that is handling your case is responsible for enforcing it.

If you believe you qualify for either asylum or refugee status and want to gain a better understanding as to how to apply for either, then a Nashville civil rights attorney may be able to provide you with the guidance you’re looking for.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Questions & answers: Refugees,” accessed Aug. 24, 2017