by Elizabeth R. Blandon

Asylees can travel internationally with a Refugee Travel Document. They should no longer use their country’s passport. In fact, although widely misunderstood, asylees can even return to their homeland in extreme circumstances. Because such travel affects future residency and citizenship, however, an immigration professional should be consulted.

Admission of family members as refugees is possible. The spouse and the children of an asylee can be requested directly, through a process similar to obtaining a visa. Likewise, anyone who lived with the asylee in the homeland (for example, grandparents or siblings) may be given a refugee interview and may come into the U.S. in their own right.

Public assistance for asylees and refugees is available through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. It is part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services – an agency separate from Citizenship and Immigration Service or the Immigration Court. Information for this article was obtained from the Refugee Coordinator for Florida. They can be contacted in Tallahassee at (850) 488-3791 or through the web-site: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/refugee/. The services available to asylees include:

Adult and Vocational Education including English classes
Child Care services limited to 12 months
Employment Services including orientation, direct job preparation and placement
Case Management for those with epilepsy, in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties
Interpreter training, telephonic interpreter services and vital translation services
Medical and mental health services, to Cuban and Haitian refugees
Services to refugee youth to prevent juvenile delinquency and school dropouts

Work authorization becomes a permanent benefit of asylum. Unlike applicants, an asylee does not need to apply each year for a CIS work authorization document.