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ISSUE DATE: 10/2011

Some non-citizens are allowed to enter or remain in the United States because they are unable or unwilling to return to their country of residence for fear of persecution. There are several levels of immigration status that relate to this, most of which are temporary. However, people may adjust their status to lawful permanent residents. See 0011.03.12.03 (Non-Citizens - Adjustment of Status).

REFUGEES: People who have established that they have a well-founded fear of persecution as a condition of their entry to the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has interviewed them outside this country, and they have met the processing priorities established by the State Department. The priorities have to do with need for protection or close ties to the United States through employment or relatives. Prior to 1981, some refugees entered the country under other immigration categories, such as conditional entrant or paroled as a refugee.

IRAQI OR AFGHAN SPECIAL IMMIGRANTS: People admitted as lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with the Special Immigrant Visa (SIVs) or who have adjusted to special immigrant status after entering the U.S. under another immigration status, such as an asylee or parolee. SIVs are eligible for the same benefits as refugees. Documentation for special immigrant status includes:


An Iraqi or Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting the person was admitted under the Immigrant Visa category of SI1, SI2, SI3, SQ1, SQ2 or SQ3 and Department of Homeland Security stamp or notation on passport of I-94 showing date of entry.



Department of Homeland Security form I-551 showing Iraqi or Afghan nationality (or Iraqi or Afghan passport) with an Immigrant Visa category of SI6, SI7 SI 9, SQ 6, SQ7 or SQ9.

ASYLEES: People who are already present in the United States and have established a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to their home country, may be granted asylum status. The process for establishing a claim of asylum before an USCIS asylum officer or immigration judge may take some time, often a year or more. Applicants may be granted employment authorization after their case has been pending for a sufficient time, or when preliminary approval of the claim is granted prior to a background check. Some applicants who are not granted asylum may be given withholding of removal (or deportation) when it is decided that persecution is more likely than not.

AMERASIANS: The non-citizen children of Vietnamese mothers and American fathers may be admitted to the United States along with their immediate relatives. Though they are admitted as lawful permanent residents (LPR), they are generally eligible for the same benefits as refugees. See AMERASIAN in 0002.03 (Glossary: Agent Orange...).

CUBAN/HAITIAN ENTRANTS: These people are non-citizens from Cuba or Haiti who are paroled into the U.S. The I-94 Arrival/Departure record will be stamped “Public Interest Parolee”, “Humanitarian Parolee”, or “Paroled” and the individual’s country of origin/citizenship must be Cuba or Haiti.

For benefit purposes, Cuban/Haitian entrants are treated the same as refugees. They are not parolees.

Haitian nationals granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) do not meet the definition of Haitian entrant. See 0011.03.24 (Non-Citizens - Lawfully Residing People).

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