USCIS Clarifies Physical Presence Guidance for Asylees and Refugees Applying for Adjustment of Status

Published by on February 7, 2023

How to calculate the one-year physical presence requirement

Effective immediately, USCIS has updated guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that both asylees and refugees must have been physically present in the United States for one year when they adjudicate their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, rather than at the time they file their adjustment of status application. This applies to all Form I-485 and Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, applications pending on February 2, 2023, and those filed on or after that date.

This update will promote consistency across asylee and refugee adjustment of status applications. If USCIS cannot determine whether an applicant satisfies the one-year physical presence requirement by reviewing their file or their records when they adjudicate their Form I-485, USCIS may request additional evidence.

This policy manual update also:

• Clarifies that asylee and refugee adjustment of status applicants previously admitted in J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status and otherwise subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(e) do not need to meet that two-year requirement (or obtain a waiver) to adjust their status under INA 209; and

• Makes minor technical updates, including clarifying processing steps for refugees seeking waivers of inadmissibility, removing references to the obsolete Form I-291, Decision on Application for Status as Permanent Resident, and adding regulatory citations related to asylum termination procedures.

If you have any questions, please contact our office.

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