What Benefits Do Asylum Seekers Get in the U.S.?

Updated on April 11, 2024

At a Glance

  • Asylum provides legal protection to individuals fleeing persecution or war.
  • Asylees have the right to work legally and can apply for benefits.
  • Immediate family members can be included in the asylum application.
  • Asylees can access assistance through Refugee Resettlement Agencies for various needs.

When you get your approval for U.S. asylum, you have the chance to apply for certain immigration benefits. As such, you can use them to your advantage in order to settle and live in the U.S. But what benefits do asylum seekers get in the USA? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Is Asylum?

Asylum is a type of legal protection offered to those coming from foreign countries. It usually applies when a person is leaving their country and is too afraid to go back. More often than not, it can be due to persecution because of nationality, religion, race, and other similar things. It also happens when war is ongoing in the country and people are trying to run away from danger.

An asylee will be protected from being sent back to his/her home country and will be allowed to stay in the States and even apply for certain benefits that U.S. citizens have.

So, someone who is granted asylum will receive legal protection from the U.S. Apart from that, a person with asylum status can work legally in the United States even if they don’t have an EAD.

Once a one-year period passes, the asylee will be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status and thus obtain a green card. After this, he/she will be able to apply for citizenship after four years.

How to Obtain Asylum Benefits for Your Family?

When you become an asylee, you can also obtain asylum benefits for your family members. So, your spouse and children will have the right to obtain a “derivative” grant of asylum, no matter if they’re in the U.S. or not.

When you include your immediate family members in the application, they will immediately receive asylum as long as they are in the U.S. So, you will all become asylees at the same time.

On the other hand, if the family is not in the country or you didn’t include them in your application, you still have an alternative. You can file USCIS Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, and help them obtain asylum too. You will need separate forms for each member of your family.

There are some eligibility criteria to keep in mind, though. For instance, if you want your wife/husband to receive asylum, the two of you must have been married legally before obtaining asylum. So, a government certificate must have been issued in order to make them eligible. As for the children, they must be below 21 years old and not be married to be eligible for asylum.

You should also be aware that if something happens and you die after you become an asylee, your family will still have asylum if they live in the U.S. They must live in the U.S. at the time of your death, and keep living there when submitting the application for adjustment of status. After one year, they will have the opportunity to obtain a green card themselves.

How to Obtain Asylum Benefits Through a Refugee Resettlement Agency

You became an asylee – what should you do now? Well, it’s time to contact a Refugee Resettlement Agency (RRA) as soon as you can after obtaining asylum. Since you need to settle and adjust to living in the States, you need to get some help, and an RRA is more than suitable for that. Even if you don’t have a job yet, an RRA can offer you a lot of support.

Here are some of the ways an RRA can help you based on your income, savings, and family size:

  • Give you a hand when it comes to obtaining benefits from the government (which includes things like refugee travel documents, Social Security Card, food stamps and health care)
  • Give you psychological counseling when necessary
  • Help you enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes
  • Offer you housing, living expenses assistance or money
  • Give you counseling or classes for job training, as well as job placement services

If there’s one thing to be aware of, it’s the fact that you can’t apply for these benefits anytime you want. They have their own deadlines, so you must apply for them before the deadline is being reached. Some programs may be only available for the first 30 days after you became an asylee.

Other services will expire after a while, which means you should stop using them. This usually includes job training services or SSI. However, it is possible to extend your public benefits eligibility for some benefits once you obtain a green card.

Make sure to contact the closest RRA. All you have to do is access the Office of Refugee Resettlement Website or call the Asylee Information and Referral Hotline at 1-800-354-0365.

Benefits for Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers have certain benefits that they can claim.

For instance, you can travel abroad and then reenter the U.S. with no problem. You only need to make sure you obtain a refugee travel document, which you can get if you file and submit Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

You just have to plan this in advance, because obtaining the travel document may take a few months. These documents are also available for a certain amount of time, so check the expiration date. More than that, you should never travel to the country you ran away from, or else the U.S will consider you don’t fear prosecution anymore and you can lose your status.

Asylees are also able to ask for money help or help with their living expenses. They can work legally in the States and can enroll in job training programs before they get employed. English classes are also available to them.

Other Benefits

There are other benefits available for asylees, such as:

Social Security Cards

You can work in the U.S., and don’t need an EAD. You can, of course, get an EAD, but you can also obtain a Social Security card. This will not add any limitations to your employment. You only have to go to the closest Social Security Administration office and you can get the card.

Driver’s Licenses

If you want to become a driver, obtaining a driver’s license is also possible. You need to obtain your Social Security number before you can get a driver’s license, though, as most states require it.

Green Cards

Obtaining a green card is another benefit available for asylees who’ve been living in the U.S. for a year. You can thus become a permanent resident and if you keep living in the States, 4 years later you will be allowed to apply for citizenship.

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If you came here asking “What benefits do asylum seekers get in the USA?”, your question has been answered. You can not only obtain financial help, but also employment assistance, social security card, and a driver’s license. What’s more, once you have lived in the U.S. for one year, you can apply for permanent residency, and after the next 4 years, you can become a citizen if you stayed in the country for that long.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What Benefits Do Asylum Seekers Receive in the United States?

Asylum seekers in the United States may be eligible for the following benefits and protections:

  • Asylum Status: If granted asylum, individuals receive protection from deportation and can live and work legally in the U.S.
  • Work Authorization: Asylum seekers can apply for work authorization 150 days after filing their asylum applications if their cases are still pending.
  • Access to Healthcare: Asylum seekers may be eligible for emergency Medicaid, and some states offer additional healthcare options.
  • Housing Assistance: Some nonprofit organizations and charities provide housing assistance to asylum seekers.
  • Refugee Cash Assistance: In some states, asylum seekers can receive cash assistance while their cases are pending.
  • Access to Education: Asylum seekers, including children, can enroll in public schools.
  • Social Services: Some states offer social services and support to asylum seekers.

2. Can Asylum Seekers Apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card)?

Yes, asylum seekers who have been granted asylum status can apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) in the U.S. after one year of asylee status. They must meet certain eligibility requirements and file the appropriate application.

3. Do Asylum Seekers Receive Financial Assistance?

Asylum seekers may receive limited financial assistance through programs like Refugee Cash Assistance in some states. However, this assistance is generally temporary and subject to eligibility criteria.

4. How Long Does the Asylum Process Take?

The length of the asylum process can vary widely depending on factors such as the backlog of cases, the complexity of the case, and the location of the immigration court. It can take several months to several years for a decision to be made on an asylum application.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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