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USCIS Updates Guidance on Asylee and Refugee Adjustment One-Year Physical Presence Requirement

USCIS has updated policy guidance on the 1-year physical presence requirement for asylees and refugees applying for adjustment of status.

– The update clarifies that both asylees and refugees must satisfy the 1-year physical presence requirement at the time USCIS adjudicates the adjustment of status application, rather than at the time of filing.

– The update applies to all adjustment of status and naturalization applications that are pending on February 2, 2023, and applications filed on or after that date.

– The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance on the topic.

– To be eligible for adjustment of status, an asylee or refugee must have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after either being granted asylum status or admitted as a refugee.

An asylee is a person who has been granted asylum in the United States after demonstrating a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. Asylees have the right to live and work in the United States, and they may eventually apply for adjustment of status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), commonly known as a green card holder. This article outlines the process for asylees to apply for adjustment of status in the United States.


Eligibility Requirements

Before applying for adjustment of status, asylees must meet certain eligibility requirements:

  1. Physical presence: The applicant must have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after being granted asylum.
  2. Maintaining asylum status: The applicant must have maintained their asylee status and not have it revoked or terminated.
  3. Admissibility: The applicant must be admissible to the United States as an immigrant. Some grounds of inadmissibility, such as certain criminal convictions or security concerns, may disqualify an applicant from adjusting their status.

Application Process

Once the eligibility requirements have been met, the following steps outline the process for applying for adjustment of status:

  1. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: Asylees need to complete and submit Form I-485 to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form includes questions about the applicant’s personal information, immigration history, and criminal background. Asylees should answer all questions accurately and honestly to avoid delays or denials of their application.
  2. Submit Supporting Documents: Along with Form I-485, applicants must submit several supporting documents, including:a. A copy of the approval notice or court order granting asylum. b. Two passport-sized photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application. c. A medical examination report (Form I-693) completed by a USCIS-designated civil surgeon. d. Evidence of continuous physical presence in the United States for at least one year since being granted asylum, such as employment records, rent receipts, or utility bills. e. Any additional documentation or evidence requested by USCIS.
  3. Pay the Applicable Fees: Asylees are required to pay a filing fee for Form I-485, as well as a biometric services fee. Fee waivers are available for applicants who can demonstrate an inability to pay.
  4. Attend a Biometrics Appointment: After submitting the application, applicants will receive a notice to attend a biometrics appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). At this appointment, the applicant’s fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be collected for background checks and identity verification.
  5. Attend an Interview: USCIS may schedule an interview with the applicant to review their application and verify the information provided. Applicants should bring all original documents and any additional evidence requested by the interviewing officer.
  6. Receive a Decision: After reviewing the application, conducting background checks, and completing the interview, USCIS will make a decision on the applicant’s adjustment of status. If approved, the applicant will receive a new Form I-94 and a green card, signifying their new status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. If denied, the applicant will receive a written explanation of the reasons for denial and may have the option to appeal the decision.


The process of applying for adjustment of status for asylees can be complex and time-consuming. However, by meeting the eligibility requirements, accurately completing the necessary forms, and providing the required supporting documentation, asylees can successfully navigate the process and secure their future in the United States as Lawful Permanent Residents.

Please contact our office for a free consultation, if you have any questions.

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