How Will the Biden Administration Impact Asylum and Refugee Status?


Immigration is always a hot topic in the United States when a new presidential administration comes into power, with good reason. Potential policy shifts could have serious implications for those with pending or forthcoming immigration issues. That’s why it’s helpful to have a relationship with an immigration lawyer from the outset so that you’re prepared for what to expect and can receive updates about how your case is likely to be impacted if there are new policies in play.

Asylum and Refugee Status in Virginia

In 2020, record low numbers of asylum applicants were approved to stay in the U.S. under that status. Fewer than 12,000 people were resettled under that status in the U.S. last year. However, most people expect significant changes from the Biden administration to expand these numbers.

The Two Types of Asylum and Eligibility

The first of the two kinds of asylum processes in the U.S. is known as affirmative asylum. It applies to individuals who are not already in removal proceedings. The second type, the defensive asylum process, is for those parties already involved in a removal proceeding.

To be eligible for either type, the individual must already be in the U.S. With either kind of asylum proceeding, you might need an immigration lawyer to help you with paperwork and to ensure you’re prepared.

What Is the Major Difference Between Asylum and Refugee Status?

The primary difference between these two terms is the person’s location when they open the proceedings. Someone requesting asylum must already be in the U.S., whereas someone who is requesting relocation and protection in the U.S. while still in another country is known as a refugee.

How Does Affirmative Asylum Processing with USCIS Work?

When the person is not in the midst of a current removal proceeding, they will apply for asylum through USCIS. No matter how you arrived in the U.S. or your current immigration status, you can still open an application for asylum; however, you must do so in a timely manner. You have to apply for asylum within one year of the date you last arrived in the U.S. The only exceptions to this requirement include:

  • If you can show that your circumstances have materially impacted your ability to file or your asylum eligibility
  • Once you knew those circumstances, you filed your petition as soon as possible

Working with an immigration law firm is the best way to feel confident about your submission of materials. You can submit Form I-589, the Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, to USCIS. For best results, work with your immigration attorney to complete this form and send it to the correct location. If you do not get approved and have no legal immigration status, USCIS will issue a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge.

While your Form I-589 is pending, you can stay in the U.S. You’ll want to have an attorney to help you with each aspect of your immigration law case, however, to avoid any other mistakes or issues.

How Does U.S. Law Define a Refugee?

Specifically, U.S. laws define refugees as those people who are:

  • Not currently within U.S. borders;
  • Legally admissible to the U.S.;
  • Represent some type of particular humanitarian concern to the U.S.;
  • Have not firmly resettled in some other country; and
  • Can show that they have already been persecuted or fear immediate persecution due to political opinion, membership in a specific social group, race, nationality, or religion.

What Approach Will The Biden Administration Take Concerning Asylum and Refugee Status?

President Biden announced that he would raise the refugee admissions target up to 125,000 refugees each year during the presidential campaign. If he delivers on this promise, it will represent a significant increase from current numbers, since the Trump administration’s immigration policies are likely to be reversed as much as possible by the new administration.

Contact Fayad Law, P.C. Today

If you’re concerned about refugee or asylum status concerns, you need a legal team to support you today. We are a full-service immigration law firm, including humanitarian, asylum, and more complex practice areas, serving clients in multiple languages. We know that you’re going through a challenging situation trying to comply with the ever-evolving immigration laws, and we’re here to help you through that process with kindness and care.

We are a culturally diverse and culturally sensitive law firm that understands the backgrounds and concerns of many of our clients from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Latin American North to East and West Africa and the Philippines. We also understand business immigration, so whether you need a consultation about a pending issue or an upcoming one, you can trust our team to get you the answers and case support required. A refugee lawyer can help you or a loved one if you have questions about the immigration process.

Due to the complexity of the laws and processes associated with asylum and refugee status, it’s vital to look for an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to avoid mistakes and to ensure you have proper legal representation right away. Contact our office today at 703-998-5390 or complete our online form.


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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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