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The immigration process for refugees

California residents who are interested in asylum issues may want some more information about the refugee admission process. The U.S. government provides assistance to those who are accepted for admission into the country for asylum.

A refugee is defined under immigration law as a person outside of the country who is facing persecution based on race, nationality, religion or some other characteristic. The federal government demonstrates a concern for humanitarian reasons and the refugee may be eligible for admission into the country because of this fear of persecution. Those who order or participate in the persecution of others, however, are not eligible for refugee status.

The process of admission into the U.S. as a refugee begins with a referral for consideration of the person's refugee status to the federal Refugee Admissions Program administered by the State Department. This referral allows the person to get assistance with filling out the necessary forms and gets them connected with a refugee case worker in order to start the process. Information surrounding the person's application for refugee admission is not shared with the person's home country.

Once approved for admission, the person is then eligible for a loan for travel expenses, a medical examination and cultural education to begin the admission process. Upon arrival, cash assistance and medical benefits may be available to the new refugee. They may also bring their spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. This can be done in the initial application or within two years of arrival in the US.

An attorney with experience in immigration law may be able to assist a person seeking asylum in the U.S. The process can be difficult, so the guidance of an attorney may help to ensure that there are no mistakes.

Source: US CIS, "The Refugee Process", December 23, 2014

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
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  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber