If you have entered the United States as a resettled refugee or been granted asylum in the United States, you may be eligible to petition for your relatives to join you in the United States. There is a number of family reunification processes available, which are detailed below. Each has different requirements regarding who is eligible to apply, which relatives you can apply for and how to file the application. Refugees and asylees are generally encouraged to work with an attorney or a resettlement agency on these family reunion processes. A list of pro bono attorneys and legal service providers may be found here.
Following-to-Join Family Reunification with I-730 Form ⬇️
If you have been granted refugee status or asylum in the United States, you may be eligible to petition to have your spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 (beneficiaries) join you in the United States. If you are applying for your child to join you, please note that they must have been under the age of 21 at the time your Form I-590 was filed (if you are a refugee) or your Form I-589 asylum application was filed (if you are an asylee). Applications are filed using Form I-730, and beneficiaries are referred to as either follow-to-join refugees or follow-to-join asylees, depending on your status as a refugee or asylee. Your spouse or child on the I-730 petition does not need to be a refugee or asylee and can be interviewed in any country where the United States conducts interviews. Applications should be filed within two years of your arrival in the United States (if you are a refugee) or of your grant of asylum (if you are asylee).
For more information on how and where to apply, including a list of United States embassies where interviews are conducted, click here. UNHCR strongly encourages refugees and asylees to use an attorney for this process.
Priority 3 (P-3) Family Reunification ⬇️
Another option for family reunification for refugees and asylees is the Priority 3 (P-3) Family Reunification. If you are a refugee or asylee of a designated nationality in the United States, you can apply to have your parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to join you in the United States. Currently, all nationalities are eligible for P-3 Family Reunification.
You must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) through a refugee resettlement agency in the United States within five years of your arrival in the United States (if you are a refugee) or of your grant of asylum (if you are an asylee). If approved, an AOR allows a qualifying family member outside their country of origin access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). They must then go through standard U.S. resettlement processing and independently qualify as a refugee in order to be admitted to the United States. Relatives may be required to undergo DNA testing to prove family relationships.
UNHCR encourages refugees and asylees to apply for both the Following-to-Join Family Reunification through Form I-730 and the P-3 Family Reunification if eligible. UNHCR is not involved in the P-3 Family Reunification process. Instead, you must contact a resettlement agency in your area to file a petition. A list of national resettlement agencies can be found here.
Priority 2 (P-2) Family Reunification for Iraqis and Syrians ⬇️
A third option for family reunification for refugees and asylees is the P-2 Direct Access Program, which is available to approved beneficiaries of the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative of Iraqi or Syrian nationality and their derivatives (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21). The P-2 Direct Access Program allows Iraqi and Syrian beneficiaries of the I-130 Petition whose immigrant visas are not current and who have a refugee claim an opportunity to arrive in the United States more quickly.
If you are a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you may be eligible to file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on behalf of your eligible Iraqi or Syrian family member. For more information on the I-130 Petition process, click here. If the I-130 Petition is approved by USCIS, the U.S. Department of State will mail you a letter and Expression of Interest Form. Either you or your beneficiary must then complete and return the required forms in order to be granted access to refugee resettlement through the P-2 Direct Access Program. Beneficiaries must go through standard U.S. resettlement processing and independently qualify as a refugee in order to be admitted to the United States. UNHCR is not involved in this family reunion process.
For more information and a list of countries in which processing is currently available to eligible beneficiaries, click here.
Following-to-Join for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) ⬇️
If you are an Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicant, you can apply to have your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 join you in the United States. Your relationship with your derivative must have existed at the time of your admission to the United States. UNHCR is not involved in this family reunion process.
You can find more information on Following-to-Join for Iraqi SIVs here and Afghan SIVs here.
Family-Based Immigration ⬇️
Lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens may be eligible to petition for their relatives to join them through family-based immigration processes. The availability of visas and wait times vary significantly depending on the status of the petitioner and the type of family relationship. In general, petitions for immediate family members (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21) once approved do not have a significant wait time. However, wait times for petitions for adult children and siblings can be very long. The family members overseas must be in a location where the United States embassy processes immigrant petitions. UNHCR advises the use of an attorney for this process.
You can find more information on Family-Based Immigration here.