With unending conflict and violence in their home countries, thousands of people seek asylum in the United States each year. Those granted asylum can enjoy several benefits, including protection and the opportunity to become permanent residents of the U.S. However, seeking asylum can be long and complicated, breaking up families in the process.
Asylum seekers face a multitude of challenges when trying to cross the border. Apart from language barriers and limited legal knowledge, one of the biggest hurdles is keeping their families together. Sometimes detention results in the separation of children from their parents, but processing delays or missing requirements may also force individuals to leave certain family members behind. Despite these challenges, many asylees remain determined to reunite with their loved ones under the protection of the U.S.
Who is eligible?
Generally, those already granted asylum and resettled in the U.S. may petition to bring an immediate family member to the country. There are various ways to reunite with family in the U.S., each with its own eligibility requirements.
The I-730 process
This reunification benefit is limited only to the petitioner’s spouse and unmarried minor children. Other family members such as parents, siblings, adult children, grandparents or cousins are not eligible.
The Priority Direct Access Program
The Priority Direct Access Program allows individuals with a refugee or asylum status to apply for their immediate family members to come and join them in the U.S. Family members can include spouses, unmarried children and parents.
Asylees hoping to reunite with their families can initiate the process by filing an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) with a resettlement agency.
Individuals interested in applying should file an AOR within five years of their arrival in the U.S. They may also file the I-730 within two years of their arrival or within two years of receiving asylum status.
While some asylum seekers successfully obtain asylum status, bringing their families to the U.S. can be a more difficult challenge. In these cases, the help of a lawyer can be invaluable. Navigating the complex systems of a new country can be overwhelming, and having a legal professional who understands their situation and can fight for their rights can make a big difference.