How an El Paso Immigration Lawyer Can Guide You from Asylum to Citizenship

To escape hardship, fear of persecution, or war, refugees or asylees will find themselves in the United States. After several years, some of the refugees or asylees move on to gain citizenship

The process of becoming a United States citizen is not easy but is possible when working with an experienced immigration lawyer in El Paso. To give you an idea of what the process is life, we break it down step by step. 

First Obtaining Refugee Status 

The first step an immigration lawyer in El Paso will take to assist an asylee is to begin the application for refugee status while they are still in their home country. Asylum seekers can ask for asylum when at the U.S. borders, entry points, or inside the country, but gaining entry is easier as a refugee. 

To get your U.S. refugee application considered, being referred by the Refugee Admissions Program plays a great deal. An immigration lawyer in El Paso can help you gain this priority. 

Applying for Permanent Residency 

Before moving onto citizenship, an asylee or refugees have to become permanent residents, more commonly known as green card holders. 

The process is usually long and can take several months, sometimes years, to gain this status. 

A refugee is eligible for permanent U.S. residency status once they have been living in the country for at least a year. Permanent residents can legally live and work in the U.S.

Determining Eligibility for Citizenship 

Just as we mentioned above, a refugee or asylee must complete five years of permanent residency in the United States before gaining citizenship. However, refugees may be eligible to apply for the status through naturalization much earlier than asylees. 

This is why an El Paso immigration lawyer highly advises asylees to gain refugee status before anything else. The process differs between refugees and asylees by the following: 


Permanent residency status can be counted back to the date or when they first entered the country, even if they had not yet gained permanent residency status. For example, if a refugee has spent five years in the United States and applies for a green card at the end of the five years, they can proceed as they have already fulfilled the permanent residency requirement. 

Refugees can apply for citizenship quickly after their permanent residency application is approved. 


As for asylees, only a year of their time in the United States can go towards the five-year term that is required to apply for U.S. citizenship. 

Early Citizenship Application Rule

An important rule to keep in mind: The 90-day early citizenship rule allows permanent residents to apply for the status 90 days before the five years of residency are up. This rule is based on the argument that the USCIS may not call an applicant for their citizenship interview until 90 days have passed. 

Applying for Naturalization

Once the legal requirements to apply for citizenship have been met, an El Paso immigration lawyer will then help the asylee or refugee by submitting the N-400 application. 

The applicant will have to provide several documents and their fingerprints as part of a background check. Once the applicant is cleared, they can proceed and will be invited to an in-person interview with UCIS officers. Officers may ask questions in regards to: 

  • The applicant’s background
  • The application
  • Knowledge of the U.S. Constitution
  • Willingness to take an oath of allegiance
  • Ability to read, speak, and write in English 

Get the Legal Guidance You Need from an Experienced El Paso Immigration Lawyer  

Going from refugee or asylum status to citizenship doesn’t have to be hard when you have an immigration lawyer from El Paso to support and guide you. All in all, the best first step to take is consulting with a professional. Contact our firm at (915) 996-9070 to learn more.