Asylum in the United States

What Benefits Do Asylum Seekers Get in the United States?

Asylum seekers who come to America fleeing danger in their home country can receive help from the government. Each state has different rules about what kind of assistance is available. Some common types of aid include help with housing, food, and medical care for mothers and babies. Even if you don't have citizenship, your kids born in America could get some benefits.

There are also non-profit groups that help asylum seekers. You can call them or immigration lawyers near you to learn what you qualify for, like cash, rent help, English classes, or job training. In an emergency, all asylum seekers can get medical care.

Your spouse and kids under 21 might also be able to get asylum. Overall, there are options available so asylum seekers don't have to face life in a new country with nothing. People and organizations exist to provide refugees with a helping hand.

What is asylum, and who qualifies

Asylums protect people who leave their home countries because they face severe danger or harm if they stay there. It is for those who cannot return home safely. Someone might qualify for asylum if they are afraid of being hurt or killed because of things like their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, or other personal reasons.

Asylum helps people who are fleeing wars or violence in their countries. It can also apply if a person fears mistreatment by their government, such as imprisonment, torture, or discrimination. To qualify for asylum, a person must show that their government is unwilling or unable to protect them from the harm they face.

They also have to prove that any harm will be because of who they are rather than just a regular crime. Applying for asylum means a person tells the American government why they cannot return home and asks for refuge here instead.

To be eligible, the person must enter America or be physically present here already. The person will need to show credible evidence that they genuinely fear for their life or freedom if sent back to their country.

Only some people fear will qualify. The danger must be severe, and the threats must happen because of things like how a person looks, what they believe, or who they associate with. If approved, asylum provides protection and permission to stay and work in the United States.

Will Getting Help From the Government Hurt My Asylum Request?

Getting assistance from the US government will not negatively impact a person's asylum case. The different aid programs are meant to provide essential support to asylum seekers while they wait for a decision on their request to stay in America. Some key points about this:

Ideally, help such as housing, food stamps, or medical care is allowed and will not cause the government to deny the asylum plea.

The assistance applications do not ask about details of the asylum claim, such as why safety is an issue back home. They focus only on things like income level and family size.

Non-profit agencies can also vouch that applying for benefits is a normal part of the process for many refugees and does not imply a person is unworthy of asylum.

As long as the asylum story remains consistent, utilizing temporary aid will not affect whether the government decides the situation back home indeed risks harm.

The assistance programs exist specifically so basic needs are met during what is often a long wait between submitting an asylum request and getting an answer.

They aim to provide support, not find reasons to refuse refuge.

Benefits from the Government

The US government provides some help to asylum seekers through programs in each state. One type is healthcare assistance. Asylum seekers may qualify for emergency medical care, such as visiting a doctor or hospital when sick. In some places, they can get medicines or ongoing care through state medical insurance.

Another benefit is housing support. Certain states offer temporary help finding a safe and affordable place to live. That could mean first money for rent, deposit, or utility payments. There are sometimes special programs that help asylum-seeker families specifically.

Cash assistance from the government may also be available while an asylum application is pending approval. Programs like Refugee Cash Assistance provide a small amount of money for basic needs like food and clothes. The funds are usually time-limited, and the rules vary for each community.

Other support includes food aid using programs like SNAP (food stamps). Qualified asylum applicants can get help buying groceries and meals. Some local social services may also be accessible for counseling, English classes, or job training resources.

Accessing Assistance through Refugee Agencies

Refugee resettlement agencies are non-profit groups that help asylum seekers adjust to life in the US. They provide many valuable services to make settling in easier. Once approved for asylum, people should contact their local refugee agency as soon as possible. The agencies can guide asylum seekers through getting government benefits they qualify for, such as food stamps, health insurance, or cash aid. They also offer crucial services directly. Agencies provide counseling to help with stressful emotions. Translation support is available for important tasks like doctor appointments.

Refugee agencies help asylum seekers find jobs by providing classes to improve their English speaking skills. They offer training on using computers and US work norms. Case managers connect people to job listings and help with applications. Agencies may also hold events for employers interested in hiring refugees.

Additional services can include temporary housing assistance, money for rent, or a security deposit. Childcare support and school enrollment guidance are crucial for families. Agencies know the local community and can recommend good neighborhoods, doctors, and mosques/churches to visit. Their assistance makes a huge difference for asylum seekers new to life in America.

Obtaining Work Authorization

To work legally in the US, asylum applicants need to apply for a document called an Employment Authorization Document or EAD. This allows them to take on jobs and get a paycheck like other American residents. Even though it usually takes USCIS 150 days to process an EAD application, asylum seekers can submit the form right away when applying for asylum. After around five months, if no decision has been made yet on their asylum case, USCIS will typically grant the applicant permission to work while they wait.

To get an EAD, forms I-765 and I-94 must be completed and mailed to USCIS with a processing fee or a request for a fee waiver. No interviews are required. If approved, the EAD card will be valid for one year while the asylum case is pending. It can be renewed as long as asylum status continues.

Having an EAD is important because asylum applicants are not legally allowed to work without it. With an EAD in hand, they can search for employment freely without worry and support themselves during the often long wait for the government's final decision on their asylum application.

Education and Social Services

Children can go to public schools. All kids living in the United States can enroll in elementary, middle, and high school whether they have documents or not. Schools will accept asylum seekers of any age. The education is free and can help kids learn English and catch up with their classes.

There are also programs to help adults improve their language abilities. Many locations offer low-cost or free English classes so people can communicate better. Learning the language makes finding jobs more accessible, understanding doctors, and feeling more comfortable daily.

Healthcare is available, too, for urgent situations. If someone becomes sick or hurt, doctors see patients regardless of status. Hospitals and clinics take care of medical issues when needed. Some places provide ongoing care coverage through insurance programs if qualifying.

Assistance exists for other everyday challenges like counseling and new parent services. Stressful transitions happen after leaving home, so support groups help people cope well. Resources guide caring for babies and raising families successfully in a new place.

Overall, the community aims to welcome asylum seekers by supporting lives and futures through schooling access plus extra social programs.

Travel Documentation

Leaving the country is allowed on special papers for refugees called travel documents. If you need to go outside America for important reasons, there is a process to get the papers. Forms ask why travel is necessary and where a person will go. It often takes months for the documents to get approved.

While waiting, staying in America is safest. The travel documents allow you to come back in without issues, but there is a time limit, so checking expiration dates is essential. The papers only work for approved refugee countries, and the place fled from isn't an option to visit.

Having papers proves a person has permission to leave and re-enter America without problems at the border. Without them, there could be difficulties proving refugee status when coming back. The papers give the ability to travel internationally if a legitimate need requires it while ensuring the ability to return home here.

Before applying, it is wise to carefully consider whether travel is truly essential. Safety abroad cannot be guaranteed. If possible, staying put within America throughout the asylum application period avoids any uncertainties of international travel without status elsewhere. The documents offer flexibility, but their guidelines must be followed closely.

Path to Permanent Residency

After living in the United States with asylum status for an entire year, the opportunity arrives to start a green card application process. A green card permits lawful permanent residence in America. Forms ask for information like the date the asylum application was approved, addresses lived at over the past year, and other personal details.

Submitting the forms along with photos and the application payment allows applicants to wait for a decision. Most who qualify receive approval, but an interview may occur to verify that the asylum story details match what's on file. If approved, the green card arrives in the mail, providing the status of a permanent resident.

As a permanent resident of the United States with a green card, many benefits open up. Travel is more accessible internationally with a valid ID. Work can continue long-term without limits. After three years with the card, eligibility appears for naturalization and, eventually, American citizenship.

As with previous temporary documents, annual renewal is no longer needed. The green card marks a significant step toward officially making America a permanent home.

Where Can I Learn What Help Exists Near Me?

There are a few good resources available to find out what assistance exists near where you live. First, contact local refugee resettlement agencies or non-profit organizations. They will be knowledgeable about benefits and services offered locally for refugees and asylum seekers. These groups want to help connect people with resources.

You can also ask immigration lawyers in your city or state for information. Even if you do not hire them, most lawyers will have a basic understanding of what public aid programs are available where you reside.

Another option is contacting your public library - the staff there may know of agencies that help refugees or be able to point you in the right direction.

For a simple nationwide resource, call 211 from any phone. That will connect you to a community services hotline operated in many areas. Tell them about your location and situation as an asylum seeker, and they can provide details on food pantries, cash assistance, medical care, or other programs near you. Having this local information makes it much easier to get settled and receive the support you need.

Can I Apply For a Green Card Later?

If you are granted asylum, you do not have to stay with temporary permission forever. After one full year of having asylum status in the United States, you can apply for a green card, which allows permanent resident status.

You must prove you have lived here for 12 months before applying. The application asks for information like your asylum approval date and addresses during the past year. There may be an interview to confirm details that match your asylum case before. Most who qualify receive approval for the green card.

As a green card holder, you gain benefits like being able to travel internationally more quickly and work without limits. After three years, you can even apply for US citizenship if remaining in America. A green card is an essential step after asylum towards officially making the USA your long-term home.

Will Getting Help Impact Other Immigration Situations?

Only some long-term monetary or medical aid programs can potentially cause issues for other kinds of immigration requests besides asylum. Applying for family visa categories would depend on the specific situation.

The most common forms of temporary assistance, such as housing, food, or health insurance during an emergency, would not affect other types of applications. If applying for a family visa or other programs besides asylum, it's best to check with an immigration lawyer to see which benefits could impact eligibility in those situations. In general, short-term help impacts very little.

Whether help qualifies as the kind that could influence other cases depends on factors like how long the benefits were used for, the specific programs, and individual circumstances.

The rules are complex, with exceptions. Expert guidance is best when not applying for just asylum status. If granted asylum, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 who are living in the US can seek asylum protection along with you. Some key points:

  • You must include any eligible family members when initially filing your asylum application.
  • If not included initially, you can file a separate petition (Form I-730) to request asylum for qualifying family members still abroad.
  • To be considered family, you must have been legally married before receiving asylum status. For children, they cannot be married or over 21 years old.
  • Even if family members are not currently in the US, filing correctly allows them to join you with asylum protection once they are approved.

  • Applying For A Social Security Card

    Getting a Social Security Number (SSN) makes working in the US legally possible. The process involves:

  • Filling out an application (Form SS-5) at your local Social Security Administration office
  • Providing documents that prove your identity, age, and work-authorized immigration status in the US
  • Examples include your asylum approval notice and unexpired EAD work permit card

    There is no fee to apply for an original SSN as an asylum recipient or refugee

    You will receive a letter and unique 9-digit number in about 2 weeks if approved

    The SSN allows employers to pay you and pay taxes appropriately.

    WARNING: The foregoing is an article discussing legal issues. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case.

    Resources / Helpful Links:

  • Benefits and Responsibilities of Asylees (USCIS)
  • Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
  • Refugee and Entrant Assistance - State Administered Programs (
  • Asylees: Available Assistance (State of California)
  • Social Security and entering the United States of America (Social Security Administration)
  • General Government Benefits for Asylum Seekers (ASAP)
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (USCIS)
  • Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record (USCIS)
  • Request Social Security number for the first time (SSA)
  • Find Resources and Contacts in Your State (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)
  • Asylum in the United States (K & G Law, LLP)
  • Beneficios para solicitantes de Asilo en Estados Unidos (K & G Law, LLP)
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