USCIS Updates Policy Manual Clarifying Physical Presence Requirement for Asylees and Refugees
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its Policy Manual to clarify that BOTH asylees and refugees must have been physically present in the United States for one year at the time the Immigration Officer adjudicates their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, rather than at the time the individual files their adjustment of status application.
This policy is effective immediately and applies to all Form I-485 Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and Form N-400, Applications for Naturalization, that are pending on February 2, 2023, and applications filed on or after that date.
What does this mean?
This means that in order to be eligible for adjustment of status (a green card), an asylee or refugee must have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after either being granted asylum status or admitted as a refugee.
Additionally, the policy manual:
- Provides that asylees and refugees are required to accrue 1 year of physical presence by the time of adjudication of the adjustment of status application, rather than by the time they file the application (and that USCIS may request additional information to determine such physical presence in the United States).
- Clarifies that asylee and refugee adjustment applicants who have held the immigration status of exchange visitor (J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrants) and who are subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement under INA 212(e) are not required to comply with or obtain a waiver of such requirement in order to adjust status under INA 209.
- Makes technical updates, including clarifying processing steps for refugees seeking waivers of inadmissibility and removing references to the obsolete Decision on Application for Status as Permanent Resident (Form I-291).
- Provides that USCIS considers a refugee or asylee who adjusted status to a permanent resident despite filing for adjustment before accruing 1 year of physical presence to have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence for purposes of naturalization if the applicant satisfied the physical presence requirement at the time of approval of the adjustment of status application.