What will happen to my family abroad after I file my asylum application?


I filed an application for asylum in the U.S., but I’m worried what will happen to my family in my home country. I have a common law spouse and a ten-year-old son who are still living there. Is there any way that they can come to the U.S. before I get a decision my application? Also, if my application is approved, I hope that we can all be reunited here in the United States. Is this possible?


Unfortunately, it may be difficult for your family members to come to the U.S. before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes a decision on your application for asylum. The simplest way to come to the U.S. is usually to apply for a visitor visa. However, because you have a pending asylum application, immigration officials will likely determine that your family members are likely to request asylum as well, and may deny them this (or any other) visa.

In certain extenuating circumstances (such as where serious health-related concerns exist), family members may be able to request what’s called “humanitarian parole” to visit the United States. They can do this by submitting Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and specifying a request for humanitarian parole.

If you are worried about your family members’ physical safety and they are otherwise eligible for refugee status, you may want to investigate options for them to receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This process can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, but it might be worth a try.

If your asylum application is eventually approved, you may then file Form I-730, Petition for Asylee Relative, with USCIS in order to bring a spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to the U.S. to live. The application for qualifying immediate relatives must be filed within two years after the grant of asylum. For more on this, see “Filling out Form I-730, Petition for Asylee Relative.”

Although it is possible for an asylee bring a common law spouse to the U.S., USCIS does heavily scrutinize any relationships that have not been “legally” recognized. If you don’t have a marriage certificate or legal verification of your marital union, your common law (or cohabiting) spouse may only qualify as an immediate relative if you can show that the laws of your country recognize common law marriage as being fully equivalent to a traditional, legally contracted marriage.

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