Family Members and Green Cards

Derivative Asylum for Family

If you have received asylum in the last two years, you can petition USCIS for certain family members to receive derivative asylum. Those family members include:

  • Spouse; and
  • Minor children who are unmarried and under the age of 21 years.

This will allow your spouse and children to obtain asylee/refugee status. In addition, they receive the benefits associated with your successful application.

There are two ways to obtain derivative asylum. It applies if they reside either abroad or in the United States.

  • Include them in your asylum application; or
  • Petition for them through “Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition” form I-730. The derivative family members must file the petition within two years after the main asylum application was granted. 

Sometimes, the USCIS gives extensions on the two-year filing deadline, but only for a good cause. The USCIS determines this on a case by case basis. Illness of the petitioner or humanitarian reasons can warrant an extension.

Family Members

Spouse

For spouses to qualify, they must have been legally and legitimately married. However, the marriage must happen prior to the petitioner’s date of admission or grant of asylum. In addition, they should remain married all the way through the grant of derivative asylum. Illegitimate marriages, such as those entered solely for immigration purposes, do not qualify. 

Children

Unmarried children must be under the age of 21. Additionally, the child must be either a biological child; born in wedlock; a stepchild; or adopted. However, we will need to research whether in vitro fertilization qualifies, and the conditions for adoption. 

The child’s age is essentially 'frozen' at the time the appropriate asylum application is filed. The age is preserved through the decision of the derivative asylum petition.

Allan Scott Lolly

managing attorney

The marital status of children is different than age. Unmarried children beneficiaries must remain unmarried until the ruling on their derivative asylum case. 

Other Family Members

Parents, siblings, and other family members are not eligible for derivative asylum. However, they may qualify for asylum or some other protection or benefit on their own.

Green Card (LPR)

Upon approval of the family member, he or she may apply to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR or Green Card) after one year’s physical presence in the United States. This will pave the way to become a United States Citizen after 5 years of being an LPR. 

Note that USCIS generally considers an asylee's date of admission as an LPR to be one year prior to the date of approval of the adjustment application. As such, the LPR may apply for U.S. citizenship in approximately four years after obtaining the green card.

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