Refugee FAQs

Refugee Documentation: Must refugees receive Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)?

Refugees apply for Employment Authorization cards as part of their arrival processing on entry into the United States. Form I-766, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), provides them with the government-issued photo identification required under the 2002 Patriot Act. Remember that all refugees (and asylees) must get a Refugee Travel Document prior to travel outside the United States, even if they have the EAD.

Refugee Children: Do refugee children also receive Form I-766, the employment authorization card, since they do not work?

Yes, all newly arriving refugees, including children, receive the EAD (I-766) in order that they will have a government-issued identification with biometric identification, that is, a photo and a fingerprint.

Expiration of Refugee I-94: Does the I-94 issued to a refugee expire within a certain period after issuance?

No, I-94's issued to refugees do not have an expiration date, as with visas and paroles. Refugee status is indefinite and cannot be revoked without a legal process. Refugees must apply for permanent residence after one year, however, and may have to surrender their original I-94 as part of the application process.

Refugee Date of Entry: Does a refugee's I-94 always show the refugee's date of entry?

No, if a refugee travels outside the United States, s/he will surrender his/her original I-94. A new I-94 will be issued on return to the United States with the date of the current entry rather than the original date of eligibility. (The original entry date is sometimes but not always recorded on the reverse as "DOE: 00/00/00.) Providers should verify with the client that any I-94 was issued on the refugee's initial entry into the United States.

Refugee Adjustment of Status: Does a refugee have to adjust status to permanent resident after one year?

Yes, a refugee must apply to adjust status to permanent resident one year after arriving in the United States under current laws. Each refugee must file Form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promptly. Refugees may get help from Refugee Services Legal Providers or their resettlement agency in submitting the application and applying for waivers of fees if they are not able to afford them. Once receiving Form I-551, the Permanent Resident Card, refugees no longer have to file for separate employment authorization cards.