DHS/USCIS Adjudication and Appeal ProcedureDHS/USCIS officers conduct all refugee status determination interviews, and all persons entering the US as refugees must be seen by DHS/USCIS. When interviewing family units, all adults are interviewed. Only one member of the family unit, however, needs to meet the US refugee definition (this person is often referred to as the principal applicant). Other members of the same family may derive refugee status from the family member who is the principal applicant. DHS/USCIS regulations limit derivative status to the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age). Other family members attached to the case, such as parents, siblings, married children, children over the age of 21, nieces, nephews, etc. must meet the refugee definition themselves. Such persons cannot derive refugee status from the principal applicant, although they can be included in the principal applicant’s case for the purpose of obtaining an interview. For example, a 12 year old niece, living with her aunt's family may be included in their case, however, DHS/USCIS will adjudicate her refugee status separately from that of her aunt's family.
In addition to determining refugee status, DHS/USCIS also determines whether or not the person is firmly resettled in the country of first asylum or elsewhere. Persons who are firmly resettled are not eligible for resettlement to the U.S., even though they meet the U.S. refugee definition.
If the person is accepted as a refugee by DHS/USCIS, the acceptance is conditioned upon the individual passing a medical examination and all security checks.
In contrast to asylum processing in the U.S., persons rejected by DHS/USCIS during the refugee process cannot appeal the decision. An applicant, however, may request a reconsideration of his/her case on the basis of new information, or information that was not available in a previous interview. The request is made to the DHS/USCIS official or office who conducted the interview and whether the request granted is entirely within the discretion of DHS/USCIS. In March of 2011, DHS/USCIS produced a "Request for Review Tip Sheet," which can be found here.