Chapter 1: Purpose and Background

A. Purpose​

U​.​S​. ​C​itizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)​seeks​ to:​

Resolve the ​asylee​’s​ status by ultimately determining whether ​he or she​ is admissible to the ​United States​ as an immigrant; and​

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

B. Background​

The Refugee Act of 1980 not only provided for the admission and adjustment of status of refugees but also established procedures for ​foreign nationals ​to ​seek asylum​. Prior to the Refugee Act, ​there was no mechanism for someone in the ​Unit​e​d States​ to apply for protection under the Refugee Convention. ​The Refugee Act ​required​the establishment of ​a procedure for a​ foreign national​who meets the definition of a refugee ​to apply for and be granted asylum if ​physically present in the United States ​regardless ​of ​the ​person’s ​immigration​ status​.​

T​he Refugee Act provided for the adjustment ​of status ​of asylees​ to permanent residents​. ​U​nlike refugees, asylees are not required to apply for adjustment of status one year after ​receiving asylum​. ​Instead​, an asylee ​may apply for adjustment of status after accruing one year of physical presence ​after ​receiving​ asylum​ status​. The asylee​is not​ required ​to apply within a specific time frame.​

Although the Refugee Act exempted asylee​s​ from the worldwide annual limitations on immigrants, the law ​placed a ceiling of 5,000 on ​the number of asylees who could adjust to permanent resident status each year. The Immigration Act of 1990 increased the annual ​ceiling ​to 10,000 ​and​ waived the annual ​limit​ for those asylees who met the required one-year physical presence requirement and filed for adjustment of status on or before June 1, 1990. ​In 2005​,​ the REAL ID Act​ [1] See the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, Pub. L. 109-13 (May 11, 2005). permanently eliminated ​the ​a​nnual cap on the number of asylees allowed to adjust status.​

C. Legal Authority​

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

8 CFR 209.2​ – Adjustment of Status of Alien Granted Asylum​

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