Refugee Status in the US

May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Refugee Quotas:

Every year, the President of the United States will send a proposal to the Congress for the maximum number of refugees that can be admitted into the US for the upcoming fiscal year, as specified under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This number is also known as the “refugee ceiling“. Every year refugee advocates seek to raise the number whereas anti-immigration groups want to reduce it. Whatever their claims may be, once proposed, the refugee ceiling is normally accepted without substantial Congressional debate.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was a substantial disruption to the processing of resettlement claims with admissions falling to about 26,000 in the year 2002. All refugee claims were double checked for any suspicious activity and strict procedures were put in place to detect any possible terrorist infiltration to the country. Given the ease with which foreigners can otherwise legally enter the US, entry as a refugee is comparatively unlikely. The number of admitted refugees increased in subsequent years with the refugee ceiling for the fiscal year 2006 put at 70,000. These numbers however are still among the lowest in 30 years.

The applications submitted by individuals who have already entered the US are judged on whether they fulfill the US definition of a “refugee” and on many other criteria (including many bars that would prevent an otherwise-eligible refugee from receiving protection). There are two ways to apply for asylum while in the US

  • If an asylum seeker has been ordered for removal before an immigration judge with an Office that is a part of the Department of Justice, the individual can apply for asylum with the Immigration Judge.
  • If an asylum seeker is inside the US and has not been placed in removal proceedings, he/she can file an application with USCIS (formerly the INS), regardless of his/her legal status in the US. But if the asylum seeker does not hold legal immigration status and USCIS does not approve the asylum application, then the USCIS will order for removal proceedings. In such a case, a judge will consider the application. After the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act passed in 1996, an applicant must apply for asylum within one year of his/her entry or will be barred from applying unless the applicant can prove changed circumstances that are material to his/her eligibility for asylum or establish exceptional circumstances for the delay.

Though there is no right to asylum in the US, eligible applicants have a right to have the Attorney General make a determination as to whether the applicant can be admitted into the US as an asylee.

The applicant should have sufficient proof that he/she is eligible for asylum. To prove, the applicant must show that he/she has a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country because of either race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The applicant should demonstrate that he/she has a subjective fear (or apprehension) of future persecution in his/her home country that is objectively reasonable.

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How to Immigrate to the US

February 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

Why immigrate to the US?

Immigration can be defined as entering and staying in a country to which you are not a native. The United States of America, the land of immigrants and opportunities enjoys the benefit as no other country does in terms of immigration. Immigration plays an important role in the economy of the US.

Through immigration, one gets the opportunity to live and work in the US, whereas from the country’s point of view, the financial benefits out of immigration are remarkable. It is indeed a win-win situation for both the immigrant and for the country.

Getting a visa, sponsored by relatives for a green card or obtaining a green card through one’s own eligibility are commonly used immigration procedures. One can enter the United States through an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visas are meant for temporary visits to the U.S. (tourism, study, or work). Immigrant visas are for Permanent Residence in the U.S.

Once you enter the US through a visa, you can adjust your status to that of a green card holder (permanent resident) depending on a few conditions for visa holders who come under certain categories. After becoming a green card holder, you become eligible for citizenship.

Being a permanent resident or a citizen of the US has its own advantages. Green card is a proof of lawful permanent residence status in the United States. Green card holders can live and work permanently in the US. A US citizen, on the other hand can enter and exit the US at any time and also becomes eligible to vote. There are other benefits as well.

The US immigration process becomes easier if the authorities are fully satisfied with the intention of your visit to the US. An important aspect is to ensure you enter the US legally. It means if you entered the US with the permission of the US authorities, you have entered legally and it will certainly help in a trouble-free stay in the US. Those who did not get permission to enter the US are the ones who have entered illegally. This surely will cause problems in their work and stay in the US. The US immigration laws make things very difficult for such illegals to get a green card. So it is always recommended to enter the US legally.

There are many ways through which one can get a green card. One such way is through family sponsorship where a family member of yours who is a US citizen or a green card holder sponsors you. You can also get a green card through employment where a qualified US employer sponsors you. The diversity visa lottery (DV lottery program) is another way to get a green card. In this program, approximately 55,000 immigration applicants will be selected randomly to get a green card. Additionally, a person granted Refugee Status or Asylum may also apply for a Green Card but is subject to US immigration laws that differ accordingly.

After you become a green card holder, you can bring your family members come to the US. It also brings you closer to citizenship as being a green card holder is the main eligibility criteria for citizenship.

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