With the world in a constantly-evolving state of chaos and change, sometimes people simply are not capable of pursuing a happy, safe life in their home countries. In instances of war, famine, and religious or political persecution, some people are forced to flee from their homelands and search for opportunities on foreign soil. The United States of America may have its issues, but as a country, we do try to welcome refugees from dangerous situations.

One common question for people seeking asylum or refuge in America is whether they can bring their families with them. The answer is complicated, as there is no one solution for every case.

Can Your Spouse and Children Be Included in the Refugee Application Process?

The United States has a family reunification program for close family members. A refugee’s spouse and any of their unmarried children under the ages of 21 can be included in an application for refugee protection. If the family members are with the refugee in the United States, they can receive refugee status at the same time. So long as family relations can be proven – a marriage certificate, birth certificates, or potentially even a DNA test could be needed – and the family members are not barred from asylee or refugee status, they can be classified as the refugee’s “derivatives.”

In some cases, if your family members have their own personal stories of persecution in your home country, it may be advisable for them to file their own separate applications for refugee protections.

What if a Refugee Wants to Bring Family Over at a Later Date?

If you have achieved refugee status in the United States but still have close family members in your home country, you can ask that they be reunited with you in America and be granted similar protections.

There is, however, a deadline for this. You are asked to submit Form I-730 sometime in your first two years as a refugee or asylee in the U.S.

Can More Distant Relatives Immigrate with You?

Unfortunately, close family members are the only relatives allowed to join a refugee as their derivatives. While sometimes parents can be included in the family reunification process, other family members like siblings and cousins do not qualify.

It is possible to bring other relatives over to America to join you someday, but this will take longer and must go by other methods. Once a refugee becomes a lawful permanent resident and achieves US citizenship, they may submit a petition for other family members to join them in the United States.

The attorneys of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. would be proud to help you with your refugee application.