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Legal Information: Federal


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December 18, 2020

How can my family members benefit from my refugee status?

When you ask for refugee status, you may also ask that some of your close family members get refugee status too as “derivatives.”1 You must do this within the first two years of being granted refugee status.2 You can include your wife or husband, and children who are unmarried and who were under 21 when you filed your application. Included in the definition of “children” are step-children and adopted children, but the rules are complicated.​3

Your family members must show that the special barriers to status known as the “grounds of inadmissibility” do not apply to them, or you must ask that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “waive” any barriers that do apply to them.4

In addition, when you file for lawful permanent residence after being in the U.S. as a refugee for one year, you can also apply for your family members to get lawful permanent residence.5

1 INA § 207(c)(2); 8 USC § 1157(c)(2)
2 See USCIS website
3 INA § 101(b)(1)(E); 8 USC 1101(b)
4 INA sec. 207(c)(3); 8 USC 1157(c)(3)
5 See the USCIS website