Chapter 4 - Documentation and Evidence

Officers should review the following documentation to determine an asylee’s eligibility to adjust status.

A. Required Documentation and Evidence

  • Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)

Each applicant must file a separate application with fee (unless granted a fee waiver), regardless of whether the applicant is a principal or derivative asylee.

The officer must check the Form I-485 for additional aliases requiring a systems query. Also, the officer should review the applicant’s address history information. 

If the applicant lists a country in their address history other than the applicant’s country of persecution, the officer should consider this as potential evidence of resettlement in a country other than the United States by the applicant. However, an applicant is only considered firmly resettled in another country if they have been offered resident status, citizenship, or some other type of permanent resettlement in another country. 

  • Proof of asylum status

An officer must review the contents of the A-file for proof of asylum status. The A-file should contain an approved Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589) or an approved Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (Form I-730). Although an applicant may submit an Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) or an approval notice of the relative petition with their application, these documents must always be cross-checked with evidence in the A-file and in USCIS’ systems to confirm the applicant’s asylum status.

  • Evidence of 1-year physical presence in the United States

An officer can verify physical presence for a principal asylee by reviewing the date the asylum application was approved, as indicated either on the approval letter from the asylum office or on the order from the immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or a federal court. Officers may also check the information available in the Refugees, Asylum, and Parole System (RAPS). 

An officer can generally verify physical presence for a derivative asylee by reviewing:

  • The “Date of Last Arrival” and “Place of Last Arrival into the United States” fields on the adjustment application;

  • The principal’s and derivative’s “Address History” listed on each Form I-485; and 

  • The admissions information contained in USCIS’ systems. 

Officers should also review the date of admission as an asylee found on an Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) against the filing date of the adjustment application.

An officer should review any requests for travel documents or advance parole prior to the filing of the adjustment application. If there is doubt as to the applicant’s time periods in the United States, the officer may request additional information verifying physical presence. This may include pay stubs or employment records, school or medical records, rental and utility receipts, or any other documentation that supports proof of residence.

  • Two (2) passport-style photos taken no earlier than 30 days prior to filing 

  • Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

A principal asylee is required to submit a complete medical examination and vaccination record. The examination must be completed by a USCIS designated civil surgeon, meet the standards of the medical examination, and include all required vaccinations as of the date of the examination. A complete medical examination is not required of all derivative asylees at time of adjustment. 

Derivative asylees that had a medical examination conducted overseas will not be required to undergo a new medical examination at the time of applying for adjustment of status if: 

  • The results of the overseas medical examination are contained in the A-file and no Class A condition was reported;

  • The asylee has applied for adjustment of status within 1 year of filing eligibility (for example, within 2 years of the date of admission as an asylee derivative); and

  • There is no evidence in the A-file or testimony given at an interview to suggest that the asylee has acquired a Class A condition subsequent to his or her entry into the United States. 

Even if a complete new medical examination is not required, the applicant must still establish compliance with the vaccination requirements and submit the vaccination record portion of the medical examination record with the adjustment application. Unlike refugees, derivative asylees may not have their vaccination records completed by a health department with a blanket waiver as a civil surgeon. Blanket waivers for civil surgeons only extend to refugee vaccination certifications. [1] 

  • Certified Copies of Arrest/Court Records (if applicable)

An applicant must submit an original official statement by the arresting agency or certified court order for all arrests, detentions or convictions.

  • Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability (Form I-602) (if applicable) 

B. Supplemental Documentation and Evidence

Applicants often submit supplemental documentation although not required to do so. This may include: 

  • Arrival/Departure Document (Form I-94), with appropriate endorsement

  • Birth certificate, when obtainable

See the Department of State Reciprocity Tables for identity documents that cannot be obtained in particular countries and during specific time periods. There may be other instances in which a birth certificate is unobtainable because of country conditions or personal circumstances. In these instances, an applicant may submit affidavits to establish his or her identity. The officer may also review the A-file to check for a birth certificate that the applicant submitted with the asylum application or other evidence the applicant submitted at the time of the interview to establish his or her identity. 

  • Copy of passport(s), when obtainable

In many instances, an asylee will be unable to produce a copy of his or her passport. There may be other instances in which a passport is unobtainable due to country conditions, personal circumstances or the simple fact that the applicant never possessed a passport. In these cases, a copy of a passport is not required and the officer may use evidence in the applicant’s A-file to verify his or her identity. The asylee’s date of birth and nationality are established during the asylum application or relative petition process.

The officer should review any supplemental documentation submitted by the applicant to ensure it is consistent with the documentation contained in the A-file. Since identity is already established during the asylum proceedings, a birth certificate or passport is not required at the time of adjustment. Nevertheless, if the applicant submits any of these documents, the officer must address and resolve any discrepancies at the time of adjudication. In all cases, considerable weight is given to the documentation contained in the asylum packet or with the relative petition. 

C. Documentation Already Contained in the A-File

The original asylum application should already be in a principal applicant’s A-file. A copy of the asylum application should also be found in the A-file of each derivative asylee who was in the United States at the time of asylum adjudication and was included on the asylum application. The relative petition should be in a derivative asylee’s A-file if the derivative asylee followed to join the principal and was not included on the original asylum application.

Each case file will contain all of the forms, evidence, and officer notes that were part of the application for asylum. The most important document for an officer to review is either the asylum application (Form I-589) or the relative petition (Form I-730). Both provide proof of status and establish identity (with attached photo) as well as citizenship, since many asylees will not have a birth certificate or passport.

D. Unavailable or Missing Documentation

When an asylee flees the country of persecution, they may have been unable to obtain any documentation issued by a civil authority as proof of identity or of a familial relationship. At the time of the asylum interview, the asylum officer reviews a myriad of documents and affidavits and solicits testimony when seeking to establish an asylum-seeker’s personal and family identity. Any available documents submitted at the time of the asylum interview should be contained within the A-file.

An officer may rely on the documents contained in the A-file to verify the applicant’s identity at the time of adjustment. While it is not necessary to request the applicant’s birth certificate or passport as proof of identity, officers should review any documentation the applicant submits to establish identity. Additionally, photos the applicant submits should be compared to the photos in the A-file. If an officer is unable to establish an applicant’s identity due to discrepancies between the documentation the applicant submitted and the information contained in the A-file, then the file should be forwarded to the field office having jurisdiction over the case for interview and resolution.


[^ 1] This is a determination made by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Current as of November 23, 2021