May 9

How to File Derivative Status (“Follow to Join”)

A principal beneficiary admitted to the United States as a principal refugee, or granted asylum status in the United States in the last two years, can petition for children to receive refugee or asylee status by filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, on their behalf.

This status is known as “derivative” refugee or asylee status since they will be deriving this status from you after you were admitted to the U.S. as a refugee or received a grant of asylum. This petition has a two-year filing deadline, but we may still accept your petition after two years for humanitarian reasons.


Your child must meet the requirements for derivative refugee or asylee status. They are not required to have a persecution claim that would qualify them independently as an asylee or refugee; instead, they derive that status through their relationship with you.

Your child does not have to be of the same nationality as you. They may reside in their country of nationality or another country and will not be subject to the firm resettlement bar.

Silhouette of Family

Silhouette of a family with children of refugees and fence with barbed wire on the background of the beautiful sky

Child Requirements:

  • Your child must be under 21 years of age during the time of interviewing for asylum/refugee status.
  • Must have been born or conceived before you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or received a grant for asylum
  • Have a relationship to you when you filed Form I-730 and when they are admitted to the United States (if applicable)
  • Not be inadmissible under any of the grounds that apply to refugees and must not be barred as a persecutor if they are seeking derivative refugee status; and
  • If they seek derivative asylum status, they will not be subject to one of the mandatory asylum bars, including the persecutor bar.

How Can Your Child Receive a Derivative?

  • If your child is accompanying you, meaning you include them in your original application for refugee or asylee status filed. We will approve your child for derivative status as part of your case. If your child is living outside of the United States, they will be admitted to the United States at the same time you are, or within four months of your admission; or
  • Your spouse or unmarried partner must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or lawful permanent resident. Suppose your child was born and took up residence in the United States before being granted political asylum or refugee status. They must join you (called “following to join”), meaning you petition for your child within two years of being admitted to the United States as a refugee or receiving your grant of asylum status.

happy african american soldier in military uniform looking at camera with family in park

What Evidence is Needed to Prove a Family Relationship

  • Proof of your status as an asylee or refugee in the United States
  • One passport-style photograph of every family member for whom you are filing
  • Primary evidence of a family relationship:
  • Husband or wife: A copy of your marriage certificate, a copy of your spouse’s birth certificate, evidence you each legally terminated previous marriages (if applicable) and evidence of legal name changes (if applicable);
  • Mother and child: A copy of your child’s birth certificate showing their name and your name, and evidence of legal name changes if the names on the birth certificate do not match the names on the petition;
  • Father and child: A copy of your child’s birth certificate showing the child’s name and your name and a copy of your marriage certificate if you were married to the child’s mother. Otherwise, submit evidence that civil authorities legitimated the child and that a bona fide parent/child relationship exists;
  • Stepchild: A copy of your child’s birth certificate, a copy of the marriage certificate between you and the child’s natural parent, and evidence of legal name changes (if applicable); or
  • Adopted child: A certified copy of the adoption decree, evidence that you lived with the child for at least two years, a certified copy of the court order granting custody (if applicable), and evidence of legal name changes (if applicable).

If primary evidence is not available from civil authorities (or if secondary evidence along with a statement from civil authorities)

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