The U.S. provides the opportunity to apply for a green card through refugee or asylum. Refugees and those seeking asylum must have experienced persecution (i.e. a serious threat to your life or freedom) in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future in their home country.

Economic hardship is not a basis for being granted refugee or asylum status.


Quota: around 90,000 per year, 1/2 to Europeans (varies from year to year)

  • Must be physically outside the US
  • Must have a financial sponsor
  • Must show you have not permanently settled in another country

Quota: None

  • Must be physically inside the US
  • Must file an application within one year after arriving in the US beginning 4/1/97 (before April 1, 1997, deadline is 4/1/98 with certain exceptions)
Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status is granted to people from selected countries which the U.S. has recognized as currently in turmoil and therefore unsafe. Haitian citizens living in the U.S. were most recently added to the list of potential TPS recipients due to the terrible devastation wrought by the January 2010 earthquake. See TPS for Haitians for an important update.

Once an applicant has been granted TPS they will be allowed to work for the duration of the status plus any extensions to status they may receive.

TPS expiration: After TPS status has expired, the holder's status will revert to the immigration status held before the onset of TPS status, unless s/he managed to obtain another status while holding TPS status. These individuals must depart the US before the expiration of their TPS status.

NOTE: Temporary Protected Status does NOT lead to a green card.

Quota: None

Countries currently eligible for TPS:

Country Designation Date* Expiration Date
Haiti January 22, 2010 July 22, 2011

El Salvador

March 9, 2001

September 9, 2010


January 5, 1999

July 5, 1010


January 5, 1999

July 5, 2010


September 4, 2001

March 17, 2011


October 7, 2004

November 2, 2011

* You may be able to re-register for Temporary Protected Status if you originally registered by the deadline for a specific country. For more information about re-registration guidelines, please see the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services website.



Immigration Updates

The International Student Visa Process
in a post-9/11 World

US Department of State
foreign press briefing