Know the Laws:
UPDATED April 13, 2011
If you are a non-U.S. citizen living outside of the U.S. and you are afraid to return to your home country due to a fear of persecution (mistreatment/abuse), you might be eligible for refugee status, which would allow you to come to the U.S. legally.
Refugee status may be granted to someone who is outside of his/her home country (and outside of the U.S.) and is unable or unwilling to return to, or to get protection from, his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of the following:
You have to apply for refugee status before coming to the U.S. If you are already in the U.S., you would apply for asylum instead. Go to our Asylum Status page for more information.
You must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. For more information on the referral criteria, see the “USRAP Consultations and Worldwide Processing Priorities” on the USCIS website. If you receive a referral, you will receive help filling out your application and then be interviewed abroad by a USCIS officer who will determine whether you are eligible for refugee resettlement in the U.S.*
* See the USCIS website