Asylum & Refugee Protection

Refugee & Asylum Lawyer


With 50+ years of immigration experience, our attorneys at Spar & Bernstein have helped tens of thousands of people fleeing from persecution obtain refugee or asylum protection in the United States.

Contact A Refugee & Asylum Lawyer

Talk to us


If you are seeking protection in the US as a victim of persecution in your home country, our asylum and refugee lawyers at Spar & Bernstein will help you navigate the process.

We will help you file the extensive paperwork, prepare you for the interview, petition for your family members, and represent you in court if you apply for asylum to prevent deportation.


A refugee is a person who seeks protection while still outside of the United States.

An asylee is a person who has fled persecution in their home country and requests asylum while at the border or already in the United States.

To obtain status, both refugees and asylees must prove that they are eligible for protection under US law. Both refugee and asylum status are granted to people who have suffered persecution or fear persecution based on:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a particular social group


To obtain refugee status, you must:

If your refugee status is approved, you will receive:

  • A medical exam
  • A cultural orientation
  • Help with your travel to the US
  • A loan for your travel

Once you arrive in the US, you will be eligible for cash and medical assistance.


There are two ways to obtain asylum in the United States: through an affirmative process or a defensive process.

In the affirmative asylum process, you:

  • Must apply at the border or be physically present in the United States
  • Are not placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge
  • Submit Form I-589 to the USCIS to apply for asylum
  • Attend a fingerprinting appointment at the nearest application support center (ASC)
  • Attend an interview with a USCIS official

In the defensive asylum process, you:

  • Have been placed in removal proceedings
  • Request asylum as a defense against deportation from the US
  • Appear before an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for a court-like hearing
  • Receive the immigration judge’s decision on your eligibility for asylum


The rights of a refugee include:

  • The right to remain in the US for an indefinite period of time (or until the conditions in their home country are normal again)
  • The right to a work permit
  • The right to government support in the first months after arrival to the US
  • The right to bring close family members after filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
  • The right to apply for a Green Card (permanent resident status) after one year in the US
  • The right to apply for US citizenship, five years after applying for a Green Card


The rights of the asylees include:

  • The right to remain in the US indefinitely (or until the conditions in their home country return to normal)
  • The right to apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 once asylum is approved
  • The right to petition for family members to join them by filing Form I-730
  • The right to apply for a Green Card (permanent resident status) one year after receiving asylum status
  • The right to apply for citizenship five years after the Green Card application
  • The right to access social services and assistance
Speak With An Immigration Lawyer

Schedule A Consultation

Experienced Asylum & Refugee Lawyers Fighting for You

Don’t wait. Solve your U.S. immigration problems now.

  • 65+ years of experience in all areas of immigration law
  • Helped 100,000+ people to obtain U.S. immigration benefits
  • Citizenship, Naturalization, Family Immigration, Waivers & more
Schedule a Call


Who Is Defined as a Refugee Under US Law?

To be defined as a refugee under US law, you must be:

  • Located outside of the US
  • Not firmly resettled in another country
  • Admissible to the US
  • Of special humanitarian concern to the US
  • Persecuted or fearful of persecution due to religion, political opinion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group

People who participated in the persecution of any person on account of the grounds listed above are not eligible for refugee status.

What Family Members Can I Bring to The US After I Obtain Refugee Status?

As a refugee you may petition for the following family members:

  • A spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 years of age
  • Other family members, in limited circumstances

Can I Bring My Family Over If I Am Already in The US As A Refugee?

As a refugee already in the US, you can bring your family members to join you. To do so:

  • File Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition within two years of your arrival to the US.
  • If eligible, file an Affidavit of Relationship for your family members. This document contains information about your family relationships. Submission of the document marks the beginning of the application process for family members who may be eligible to come to the U. S. as refugees through the US Refugee Admissions Program.

Exceptions to the two-year period are possible, for humanitarian reasons. To discuss the details of your case and determine if exceptions apply, contact a knowledgeable refugee lawyer.

Is There a Fee to Apply for Refugee Status?

There is no fee required to apply for refugee status.

Will The Information I Provide Be Shared with My Home Country?

No, the information on your application will not be shared with your home country.

Can I Work in The US If I Have Refugee Status?

Once in the US, you are eligible to start work immediately.

When entering the country, you will:

  • Receive Form I-94, Arrival Departure Record, containing your refugee admission stamp.
  • Have Form I-765 filed for you, so you can get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Until your EAD is ready, you can show your employer your Form I-94 as evidence of your permission to work in the US.

When Can I Apply for A Green Card If I Have Refugee Status?

You can apply for a Green Card one year after your arrival to the US To apply, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.

As a refugee, you do not need to pay a fee to file Form I-485 or for biometrics/fingerprinting.

Can I Travel Outside of The US If I Have Refugee Status?

To travel outside of the US as a refugee, you need to obtain a Refugee Travel Document. Without it, you may not be allowed reenter the US.

If you return to the country from which you fled, then attempt to reenter the US, you will be required to explain how you managed to return safely.

What Should I Do If I Was Harmed in My Home Country or I Am Afraid I May Be Persecuted If I Return to My Home Country?

You may be eligible for asylum if you fear persecution in your home country because of your race, religion, national origin or membership in a particular social group (such as sexual orientation).

One year after winning your asylum case, you are eligible to apply for a green card.

How Do I Apply for A Work Permit If I Have Asylee Status?

To apply for a work permit as an asylee:

  • File Form I-765 (Before filing, check if the Asylum Office has arranged for your application to be sent to the USCIS on your behalf)
  • Receive a photo ID card as evidence that you can show to potential employers to prove you are allowed to work in the US

You do not have to pay a fee for your first I-765.

Can I Reunite with My Family Overseas If I Have Asylee Status?

If your spouse or unmarried children under 21 were with you in the US and were mentioned in your Form I-589, Asylum Application, they may have been granted asylum.

If your family remained overseas when you filed, you can file a petition for them to receive derivative asylum status.

Note that you can only petition for a spouse or child you are related to, whom you were also related to on the date you were granted asylum.

This means you cannot petition for a spouse you have divorced, a new spouse or a recently adopted child.

To obtain derivative asylum status for your family members, file Form I-730, Refugee and Asylee Relative Petition.

The deadline to submit the form is two years from the date you were granted asylum.

If you have missed the deadline, contact an experienced asylum lawyer at Spar & Bernstein to determine whether you qualify for exceptions for humanitarian reasons.

Can I Apply for Asylum If I Am in The US Illegally?

Yes. Regardless of your immigration status, you may apply for asylum if you:

  • Are not currently in removal proceedings
  • Submit your application within one year after your arrival to the US or show evidence to serve as an exception to this rule

Can I File for Asylum Status If I Have a Criminal Record?

You can apply for asylum status if you have a criminal record, but depending on the crime, you may be barred from being granted asylum.

Disclose information regarding your criminal history when you:

  • Submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
  • Attend your asylum interview

Failure to disclose criminal history information may lead to:

  • Fines
  • Imprisonment due to perjury

Contact an experienced asylum lawyer at the Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein to help determine your options for asylum if you have a criminal record.

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for Asylum Status?

There is no fee to apply for asylum status.

Are Background and Security Checks Performed When Applying for Asylum?

Yes, every person who submits an application for asylum is subject to security and background checks

How Long Does It Take to Reach a Decision on My Asylum Application?

Typically, a decision on your asylum status can take up to 180 days from the date you submitted your application.

What Happens If I Am Not Granted Asylum?

If you are not eligible for asylum, you may be referred for removal proceedings before an immigration court.

Can I Be Barred from Being Granted Asylum?

You can be barred from being granted asylum status if you:

  • Were part of the persecution of a person based on political opinion, religion, race, nationality and other circumstances
  • Pose a danger to US security
  • Were firmly resettled in another country before entering the US
  • Were sentenced for a serious crime
  • Committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside of the US

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Asylum Status Process?

A knowledgeable asylum lawyer will:

  • Help you file the necessary paperwork for your asylum application
  • Prepare you for your asylum interview
  • Help you petition for your family members
  • Represent you before the immigration court if you are seeking asylum to prevent deportation from the US
  • Research exception possibilities if you have missed the deadline to file for asylum for yourself or your relatives

At Spar & Bernstein, we have helped thousands of people obtain asylum. Contact our knowledgeable attorneys for advice and professional support to gain asylum or refugee status.

What Types of Immigration Lawyers Spar & Bernstein Has?

Experienced Leader in Immigration and Injury Law

Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.

View Brad's Bio