Slidell Asylum and Refugee Services Lawyer
Helping refugees and asylum seekers in Slidell and throughout Louisiana
The Slidell immigration lawyers at the Law Office of James A. Graham in New Orleans represent immigrants who want to stay in the United States. Our experienced asylum and refugee attorneys will determine whether you meet the definition of a refugee or asylee, help you file the proper forms, petitions, and other relevant documents, and support your request for lawful permanent residence status in the United States. We work hard with our refugee and asylee clients and their families in their pursuit of a green card.
How does someone gain refugee status in Slidell?
A refugee is an individual who has departed their home country and has an unwillingness or inability to return due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
To attain refugee status, an individual must be referred to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). According to United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), refugee priorities in the U.S. are categorized as follows:
- Priority 1: Cases identified and referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a U.S. Embassy, or a designated non-governmental organization (NGO).
- Priority 2: Groups of particular humanitarian concern recognized by the U.S. refugee program.
- Priority 3: Family reunification cases, including spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of individuals lawfully admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees, permanent residents (green card holders), or U.S. citizens with prior refugee or asylum status.
Refugees must apply for Lawful Permanent Resident ("green card") status one year after their admission to the U.S.
Our experienced immigration attorneys guide refugees completing their applications and accompany them to an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, typically at a foreign location like the U.S. embassy. USCIS assesses whether the applicant qualifies as a refugee, ensuring they are otherwise admissible (free of certain crimes, communicable diseases, etc.) and verifying that they have not been involved in persecuting others based on race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. After the individual clears the refugee status evaluation, they undergo a medical examination, cultural orientation, and receive monetary assistance for travel to the U.S., often in the form of a loan.
The refugee's case may involve their spouse, children (unmarried and under 21 years old), and, under limited circumstances, other family members. Same-sex spouses in legally recognized marriages are eligible to be included in the application, and in some cases, non-married same-sex partners may also be included. Refugees are not required to pay a fee to apply for refugee status, and the U.S. does not share the refugee's information with their home country.
How does someone gain asylee status in Slidell?
An individual seeking asylum is someone who meets the criteria for refugee status and is either already present in the United States or at a designated port of entry. To attain asylum status in the U.S., an asylum seeker can follow one of two paths:
In this approach, the applicant, if not already in the U.S., applies for asylum at the border. To apply for asylum, the individual must complete Form I-589, and undergo fingerprinting and an interview with a USCIS official, but will not be subjected to removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
This process is employed when the asylum seeker is in removal proceedings and requests asylum as a defense against deportation. The asylum seeker will present their case before an immigration judge, who will determine their eligibility for asylum.
Whether pursuing affirmative or defensive asylum, the individual must submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of their arrival in the U.S. There is no fee associated with applying for asylum, and asylum seekers are eligible to apply for green card status one year after being granted asylum.
What rights do refugees in Louisiana have?
Once refugee status is established in the United States, the following rights are accorded to refugees:
- Right to Stay: Refugees have the right to remain in the United States until the conditions in their home country are deemed safe.
- Work Permit: Refugees are entitled to obtain a work permit, allowing them to engage in employment.
- Government Support: Government assistance is provided for several months after their arrival.
- Family Reunification: Refugees can bring certain close family members once Form I-730 is submitted and approved.
- Green Card Application: Refugees have the right to apply for a green card one year after their arrival in the U.S.
- Citizenship Application: The option to apply for U.S. citizenship becomes available five years after the date of the green card application.
Upon arrival in the U.S., refugees can begin working immediately. They should receive a Form I-94 containing a refugee admission stamp. USCIS facilitates the filing of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). While awaiting the EAD, refugees can present their Form I-94 to employers as proof of their authorization to work in the United States.
To initiate the green card application process, refugees fill out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. To travel outside the U.S., refugees must fill out Form I-131, Application for Refugee Travel Document, before departure to ensure their return to the country.
What rights do asylees in Louisiana have?
After attaining asylum status, an asylee possesses the same fundamental rights as a refugee. Our knowledgeable asylum and refugee attorneys in Slidell will guide you through the necessary forms and protect your rights.
There are specific time constraints for submitting an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). Delays that the asylee requested or caused during the pendency of their asylum application with an asylum office or the Executive Office for Immigration Review do not count towards the 150-day waiting period or the 180-day eligibility period. Potential delays might include:
- Requesting a case transfer to a new asylum office or interview location due to a change of address
- Rescheduling an interview
- Non-appearance at an interview or biometrics appointment
- Failure to provide a competent interpreter when required
- Requesting to submit additional evidence at or after an interview
- Submitting substantial evidence immediately before an interview that necessitates rescheduling
- Failing to receive and acknowledge an asylum decision in person if required
According to the USCIS, if an individual scheduled for an asylum or NACARA 203 interview at an asylum office has legal representation, the attorney or accredited representative may participate in the interview remotely. Asylees who have been granted asylum can petition to bring a spouse and unmarried children (under 21) to the U.S. but must file the petition within two years from the date asylum is granted unless humanitarian reasons warrant an exception.
Do you have a Slidell refugee and asylum lawyer near me?
The Law Office of James A. Graham serves South Louisiana, and we have offices at 1929 2nd St #A, Slidell, LA 70458. We are off Route 11 and minutes from the courthouse. If you cannot travel, we can schedule a phone or video conference.
Get advice from caring and experienced Slidell refugee and asylum immigration lawyers today
The Law Office of James A. Graham helps applicants and their families who are seeking refugee and asylum status in the U.S. For legal advice regarding your immigration rights, call us or fill out our contact form and schedule your consultation today.