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An overview of refugee admissions

Georgia residents who are interested in immigration matters may wonder about refugee status and the process for individuals to obtain such status. According to immigration law, a refugee is defined as an individual who is located outside of the country and whose humanitarian condition is of concern to the U.S. A prospective refugee must also be able to demonstrate a fear of persecution or the actual occurrence of persecution for reasons related to political opinion, social status, race, nationality or religion.

In seeking status as a refugee, a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is necessary. With such a referral, an individual can obtain assistance in filing an application. An interview may be conducted abroad to determine eligibility. In some situations, certain family members may also be included in such a case. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be included. Same-sex spouses may be included if it can be shown that the couple is legally married.

The applicant does not need to pay a in seeking refugee status. Upon approval, a refugee may be subject to a medical exam. Additional orientation activities and assistance may be provided, including a loan for travel expenses. A refugee may also obtain assistance with medical and financial needs upon arrival. Immigration law allows for a refugee to work right away after reaching the U.S. Necessary documentation is coordinated. A refugee must apply for a green card after one year of residency by using Form I-485. Refugees are not assessed fees for these applications or for related biometrics.

For those who are seeking refugee status, it may be helpful to coordinate the process with an immigration lawyer in the United States to address any concerns they may have. The lawyer may also determine if other options are available should refugee status be denied or if certain family members are not approved under the refugee application.

Source: US CIS, "The Refugee Process", December 24, 2014

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