Legal Information: Federal


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December 17, 2020

Can my family members get asylum?

If you are granted asylum, you may apply for derivative asylum status for your spouse and/or unmarried minor children under age 21.1 “Derivative asylum status” means that your spouse and/or or children may be granted asylum status based on your own asylum status. You cannot apply for derivative asylum status for any other family members, such as your parents or siblings.

Unmarried minor children (under the age of 21) could include:

  • a stepchild who became your stepchild before s/he turned 18; and
  • an adopted child who was adopted before the age of 16.2

To meet the definition of spouse, you need to be legally married according to your home country’s law. However, the U.S. will not recognize some legal marriages, even if they are considered legal marriages in your home country (for example, polygamous marriages.).

In order to request asylum status for your family, you need to file the proper paperwork within the first two years of being granted asylum status. You may be able to sponsor your family members whether they are in the U.S. or in your home country.3 As always, before filing any forms, we suggest talking to an immigration attorney. You can find an attorney by going to our Finding a Lawyer page or our National Organizations Immigration page.

1 8 CFR § 208.21(a); INA § 208(b)(3); 8 USC § 1158(b)(3)
2 See 8 CFR § 208.21(b); INA § 101(b)(1)(B), (b)(1)(E)
3 8 CFR § 208.21(c) & (d)

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