Asylee FAQs

Services Available and Where to apply: What assistance and services are available to asylees and where should an asylee apply?

Asylees are eligible for all of the assistance and services provided through the Florida Department of Children and Families, Office of Refugee Services under funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The Office of Refugee Services contracts with providers in each community to deliver these services. Each program may have other eligibility criteria in addition to immigration status eligibility that asylees will need to meet.

Where to Apply: Where do asylees go to apply for refugee assistance and services?

Visit the Florida Department of Children and Families, Refugee Services website at www.dcf.state.fl.us/refugee to obtain specific information about the benefits and services provided in each community or dial 211, a free information and referral service. Asylees may also apply directly to the Florida Department of Children and Families for refugee cash and medical assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and other federal programs for which asylees may be eligible if they meet income and other program requirements.

Applying for Services: What should asylees bring when they go to apply for assistance and services?

Asylees must show proof of their identity, their asylum status, "eligibility" date (see Chapter 2 and below), and nationality when they apply for assistance or services. Asylees may save time if they bring their social security card or proof that they have applied for a social security card. A letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or some type of receipt from the SSA are acceptable documents.

Recommended for Asylum: Is a letter showing Recommending Approval from an USCIS Asylum Office an acceptable document proving asylee status?

No, Recommended Approval letters are not acceptable proof of asylee status. The applicant must show an actual Approval Letter from the USCIS Asylum Office, not a Recommended Approval. The asylum process requires applicants who receive Recommended Approval to submit their biometric information and undergo background checks before receiving a final grant of asylum.

Date of Eligibility: How do you determine an asylee's eligibility date?

An asylee's eligibility date is the date asylum was granted. See the following FAQs below about determining the date of asylum if asylum was granted by an Immigration Judge. Asylee family members may have a different eligibility date depending on when they arrived in the United States. See also below for an explanation of their eligibility date(s).

Evidence of Asylum and Eligibility Date: Is an Order of the Immigration Judge granting asylum under § 208 of the INA acceptable proof of asylee status?

Yes, an Order of the Immigration Judge granting asylum may be acceptable proof of asylee status if the order matches the conditions below: Determine the eligibility date as described for each type of order.(a) DHS Waives Appeal. (At the bottom of the order where appeal information is shown, the word “WAIVED” will be circled.):If the DHS waives the right to appeal the immigration judge’s decision, then an Order of the Immigration Judge is acceptable proof of asylee status. An asylee’s eligibility period for ORR assistance and services will begin on the date of the immigration judge’s order granting asylum. This date serves as the date of eligibility. (b) DHS Reserves Appeal (The order will show a date at the bottom next to the words “Appeal Due By.”):If the order shows that the DHS has reserved the right to appeal the immigration judge’s decision, the order does not, on its own, verify an asylee’s status. Eligibility workers must wait the 30 days until the Appeal Due date given on the Order of the Immigration Judge has passed. On or after the 31st day,** the eligibility worker will need to call the EOIR case status line at 1-800-898-7180 to find out whether the DHS has appealed the case. If the DHS has not appealed the case and 30 days have passed since the date on the immigration order, the individual is an asylee and is eligible for ORR assistance and services. Thirty days after the date on the immigration order will serve as the eligibility date (i.e., the date the individual was granted asylum). If the DHS has appealed the case, the individual is not yet an asylee and is not eligible for benefits. **Although the EOIR case status line is updated every 24 hours, ORR cautions that, on occasion, eligibility workers may find that the case status line does not contain the needed appeal information on the 31st day. The EOIR reports that it may take up to 5 days after the appeal deadline for the information to be relayed to the case status line. (c) Board of Immigration Appeals: What if an individual is granted asylum by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)?A written decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals granting asylum will serve as proof that an individual has asylee status. The date on the written decision serves as the beginning date of the eligibility period for refugee assistance and services. Most individuals who are granted asylum by the BIA will also need to apply with USCIS for documentation evidencing their status. Eligibility workers most likely will be familiar with the DHS documentation, which may include the I-94 Arrival/Departure Card. However, the written decision by the BIA will continue to serve as proof of asylee status for ORR purposes.

Eligibility Date: What is the "eligibility date" for an asylee's spouse and child(ren)?

To determine the eligibility date, ask if the asylee’s spouse and child(ren) were included in the asylee’s original application for asylum or joined the asylee in the United States later. Then, choose the example below that fits the family member’s situation.(a) If the asylee’s spouse and child(ren) were included in the asylee’s original application for asylum, what is the date of eligibility?The spouse and child(ren) have the same eligibility date (i.e., date of asylum grant) as the principal asylee. The letter from the USCIS Asylum Officer or the Order of the Immigration Judge will include their names. Individual family members do not receive separate notification. Each family member will receive his/her own Form I-94 and Form I-766 employment document.(b) If the asylee’s spouse and children were not included on the principal asylee’s application and were in the U.S. when the principal asylee filed the Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, what is the date of eligibility?The eligibility date of the spouse and children will be the approval date of the I-730. The I-730 Approval Notice serves as acceptable proof of asylee status. The DHS should also issue a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Card for the family members noting their “entry” date and their status as asylees.(c) If the asylee’s spouse and child(ren) are outside of the United States when the asylee is granted asylum and join him or her later?If the principal asylee completed a Form I-730 for his or her spouse and child(ren), they may follow him/her to the United States at any time by applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Their eligibility date will be the date that they physically enter the United States. This date will be noted on their Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Cards, which will show an asylum stamp.

Adjustment of Status: Does an asylee have to apply for adjustment of status after one year?

No, an asylee may apply for adjustment of status one year after being granted asylum, but the law does not require him or her to apply like clients admitted as refugees. To apply, an asylee must complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. The law concerning adjustment of status for asylees may be found at Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, part 209.

Reception and Placement Benefits: Are asylees eligible to receive Reception and Placement benefits from the U.S. Department of State?

No, asylees are not eligible to receive Reception and Placement benefits from the State Department. ORR’s policies do not affect the procedures or benefits of other departments of the U.S. government, such as the Department of Justice or the Department of State.

Match Grant Program

Do asylees need to be enrolled in Match Grant programs within 31 days of their grant of asylum?Yes, asylees need to enroll in a Match Grant program within 31 days of their date of asylum grant. In general, the rules that apply to refugees in the Match Grant programs also apply to asylees (for exceptions, see other FAQ regarding asylum applicant eligibility).Are there any exceptions to the requirement to enroll clients within 31 days of their grant of asylum?If you feel a client has been unfairly disadvantaged because of circumstances beyond his or her control, for instance, an asylum letter sent two months after the grant of asylum was effective, contact ORR to discuss the client’s circumstances and ask for guidance. How can providers enroll asylees in Match Grant programs if the agencies do not have established relationships with asylees through the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement or a Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement with another federal agency?The requirement that a voluntary agency must have an established relationship with a refugee through the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement or a Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement with another federal agency does not apply to asylees. Asylees are exempt from this requirement. Without association to a resettlement agency, there is a potential for asylees to approach more than one agency for services. Therefore, ORR asks that agencies make every effort to avoid duplication of services.

Medical Benefits: Do asylees need to be associated with a resettlement agency in order to receive refugee medical assistance (RMA)?

No, asylees are eligible for RMA beginning on the date they are granted asylum and do not need to be associated with a resettlement agency. Asylees are exempt from the requirement at 45 CFR §400.100(a)(4) to provide the name of the resettlement agency that resettled them.

Asylum Applicants: Are asylum applicants eligible for refugee services?

Only Cuban or Haitian nationals are eligible for refugee services while they are asylum applicants. Persons of other nationalities are eligible only when their application for asylum has been granted.

Unrestricted Social Security Cards: Do asylees qualify for unrestricted Social Security cards and what documents can be shown as evidence of status?

Social Security issues unrestricted Social Security cards to asylees since they are eligible to work based on their asylum status. The documents accepted for evidence include the I-94 with an asylum stamp, an EAD showing the asylum status code, or the original order of an Immigration Judge granting asylum. While ORR accepts the USCIS asylum letter as evidence of status for refugee program benefits, the asylum letter is not among the documents accepted by the Social Security Administration under their current regulations.

Restricted Social Security Cards: What should an asylee or refugee client do if s/he has been issued a restricted Social Security card in error?

If an asylee has been issued a restricted Social Security card (that is, a card marked "not valid for employment without DHS authorization"), the individual should go back to Social Security and request an unrestricted card. As above, s/he will have to show one of the documents mentioned in the previous question.