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Can I petition for my family members if I'm an asylee or refugee?

Those who are an asylee or refugee in South Carolina or other states may be able to petition for family members to obtain derivative status. To be eligible to petition for family members, the person designated an asylee or refugee must have gained that status directly. That means that the petitioner did not gain such status through another family member. In addition, eligible petitioners must have been granted asylee or refugee status within two years of making the petition.

Furthermore, anyone petitioning for a family member must still be designated as an asylee or refugee. Anyone who has since gained permanent residency or citizenship status may not directly petition for their family members. However, they may be able to assist their family member in the process of obtaining that status for themselves. Those who wish to petition for a family member may only petition for a spouse or a child who was under 21 and unmarried when the petitioner obtained asylee or refugee status.

If an individual is petitioning for a spouse, the couple must have been married prior to entering the United States. If an individual is petitioning for a child, that child must have been conceived prior to entering the United States. In any case, a petitioner will file Form I-730, which is free and may be downloaded from the Internet.

Those who wish to be granted asylum or obtain refugee status may have a better chance of obtaining that status through a sponsor. Heeding the advice and counsel of an experienced immigration law attorney may also increase the odds of being able to stay in the United States.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Family of Refugees & Asylees", October 10, 2014

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