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Road to US Citizenship for Refugees and Asylees

Posted on in Immigration

north carolina immigration lawyersAs a nation of immigrants, the United States has long offered sanctuary, harboring foreign persons from across the globe that are persecuted or fear persecution from their native country. More than 3.1 million refugees have been admitted to the United States since the Refugee Act of 1980. Petitioning for asylum, permanent residency, and citizenship can be complex, timely, and worrisome; however, it is attainable. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States welcomed 625,400 new citizens in 2020. Adept immigration lawyers can guide undocumented residents to citizenship without fear of deportation or retribution.

Differences between Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and What is a DED?

The only difference between refugees and asylum seekers is the legal definition of residency. Refugees are unable to return to the native countries that they have escaped due to famine, war, or political, personal, or religious persecution. They have yet to enter the United States. To attain legal entry, refugees must apply for refugee status. Asylum seekers, known as asylees, have also fled their countries of nationality and meet the definition of refugee but are residing in the United States.

In recent years, Venezuelans have suffered alarming human rights violations due to a tumultuous political regime. The Bolivarian Revolution, led by Hugo Chávez and now by Nicolás Maduro, has created a refugee crisis. Effective January 20, 2021, President Trump issued a Deferred Enforce Departure (DED) program that protects Venezuelans residing in the United States from deportation. These undocumented residents are eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD qualifies them to receive public benefits and legal employment. Although the DED is temporary, an immigration lawyer can help extend or establish permanent residency. 

Five Steps to United States Citizenship

  1. Green card - Once asylum is established, a foreign national becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the LPR an identification card, colloquially known as a “green card.” An LPR, or green card holder, can permanently reside and work in the United States. After five consecutive years of living in the United States, an LPR can apply for citizenship. The process will then take between nine to 26 months.

  2. Application for naturalization – An immigration attorney will help you complete and submit Form N-400.

  3. USCIS interview – The USCIS schedules an interview. A good immigration attorney will help prepare you for the interview and the civics and English language tests.

  4. USCIS decision – Once eligible, you will take the Oath of Allegiance in the naturalization ceremony.

  5. Oath of Allegiance to the United States – After taking the Oath of Allegiance and turning in your green card, your United States citizenship is official.

Contact a Wake County Refugee and Asylee Attorney

At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, our qualified immigration lawyers are sensitive to the emotional turmoil and desperate nature of refugees and asylum seekers. For many, asylum is a matter of life or death. We are proficient in immigration law, and we are committed to aggressively working to secure favorable outcomes for our clients. If you or your loved ones need asylum, contact a Smithfield, North Carolina immigration attorney for a free consultation at 919-533-7000 or 844-967-3536. ¡Hablamos Español!

Sources:

https://www.state.gov/refugee-admissions/

https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship-resource-center/naturalization-statistics

https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/refugees-asylees

https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-enforced-departure/ded-granted-country-venezuela

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/venezuela#

https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learn-about-citizenship/10-steps-to-naturalization

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