What is a Refugee - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines a refugee as “Any person who is outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. People with no nationality must generally be outside their country of last habitual residence to qualify as a refugee.”

But what does that mean, and how do you qualify as a refugee if you come to the U.S.?

What is a Refugee?

In plain English, a refugee is someone who can’t return to his or her home country because they fear persecution or because they were persecuted. The persecution has to be based on that person’s race, religion, nationality, participation or membership in a group, or political leaning.

How Can You Get Refugee Status in the U.S.?

In order to qualify for refugee status, you’ll have to establish that you have experienced persecution or that you have a genuine fear of persecution in your home country. You must also qualify for admission into the U.S. and be currently located outside the U.S. (If you’re currently in the U.S., you might qualify for asylum – but that’s different from refugee status.)

You have to receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or USRAP, in order for the U.S. government to consider you a refugee. You can include your spouse, your children who are unmarried and under the age of 21, and in limited cases, other family members.

If you’re approved as a refugee, you’ll get a medical exam, participate in a cultural orientation program, and get help with your travel plans. You may also get a loan for your travel to the United States.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Getting Refugee Status or Other Immigration Status?

In some cases, it’s helpful to work with a Milwaukee immigration attorney – and if you feel you need a lawyer, we can help. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with a lawyer who can answer your questions about immigration.

Carlos Gamino