Chapter 1: Purpose and Background

A. Purpose​

U​SCIS ​see​ks to:​

Resolve the refugee’s status after admission by ultimately determining whether the refugee is admissible to the United States as an immigrant; and​

Provide qualified ​refugees ​a pathway to permanent residence as persons of special humanitarian concern to the United States.​

B. Background​

Before​ the Refugee Act of 1980, ​refugee admission ​policy was reactive and piecemeal​ a​s ​it grew in response​ to humanitarian crises and ethnic conflicts​. The result was ​a​n​assortment​of laws and regulations​ that ​classified persons as refugees, conditional entrants, parolees, pre-parolees, escapees, evacuees, or asylum grantees. In many cases, the long-term resolution of the​se ​classifications​ was ​unclear​. The Refugee Act of 1980 addressed these issues by providing a systematic procedure for the admission and permanent resettlement of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the ​United States​.​

Prior to ​the ​passage of the Refugee Act, a refugee in the United States had to wait two years to apply for adjustmen​t of status.​ The refugee ​also ​had to show that he or she had fled (or stayed away from) any communist-dominated country or country within the ​Middle East​ and was ​unwilling or unable​ to retu​rn due to fear of persecution. ​

Although the refugee was not required to show that he or she continued to meet the definition of a refugee, he or she adjusted status under ​section ​245​ of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)​, ​meaning ​that all of the inadmissibility grounds and bars to adjustment applied.​The Refugee Act established, among other things, a uniform basis for permanent resettlement by amending the ​INA​ with the creation of ​s​ection 209. ​

R​efugees are ​now ​required to apply to adjust status one year after being admitted as a refugee ​in order ​for USCIS ​to ​determine ​their admissibility to the United States​ as an immigrant​.​ [1] See INA 209. Recognizing the unique and tenuous position of this population, Congress ​determined ​that certain grounds of inadmissibility would not apply at time of adjustment, while allowing for the possible waiver of other grounds. ​

C. Legal Authorit​ies​

INA 209(a)​– Adjustment of Status of Refugees​

8 CFR 209.1​ – Adjustment of Status of Refugees ​

Pub. L. 96-212​ – Refugee Act of 1980​

INA 101(a)(42)​ – Definition of “refugee”​