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Chapter 1 Outline

Chapter 1: Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

U.S. Citizenship 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 United 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. 

The Refugee Act provided for the adjustment of status of asylees to permanent residents. Unlike 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 asylees 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 annual cap on the number of asylees allowed to adjust status.

C. Legal Authority


1. [^] 

 See the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, Pub. L. 109-13 (May 11, 2005).


Date Details
March 4, 2014

Refugee and Asylee-Based Adjustment of Status under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 209

​U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address adjustment of status applications filed by refugees and asylees under INA sections 209(a) and 209(b).

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Current as of July 1, 2014