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Grant of Asylum

Permanent Residency after Grant of Asylum

What happens after the asylee/refugee status is granted?

After refugees/asylees have been in the U.S. for one year, they are eligible to become permanent residents. Like refugees, asylees may apply for permanent resident status after one year. Unlike refugees only 10,000 asylees each year are allowed to become permanent residents. Reform of the asylum system in 1995 resulted in a streamlined process that has resulted in more timely decisions. Since the reforms were instituted, more than 10,000 persons each year have been granted asylum. This fact, coupled with the annual adjustment of status limit, has created a backlog of applications for permanent residence. In March of 2001, there were more than 57,000 applications in the backlog. This means that someone granted asylum today would have to wait not one year, but approximately eight years before becoming a permanent resident (and then another five years before gaining eligibility for citizenship).

What financial benefits and assistance do refugees receive?

The circumstances under which refugees leave their country are different -from those of other immigrants. Often they are fleeing persecution without the luxury of bringing personal possessions or preparing themselves for life in a new culture. Recognizing this fact, the federal government provides transitional resettlement assistance to newly arrived refugees.

Private voluntary agencies contract with the Department of State to provide for a refugee’s food, housing, employment, medical care, counseling, and other services in the first 90 days to help the refugee make the transition to economic self-sufficiency. Certain refugees are entitled to a special program of Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the state in which the refugee resides.

While most newly arriving immigrants are barred from receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSJ), Medicaid, and Food Stamps until they become citizens, refugees are exempt from this ban for the first seven years after they gain refugee status.