Asylum is a type of legal protection granted to individuals in the United States who meet certain criteria. With a lawyer’s help, these individuals must prove that they have been persecuted — or fear that they will be persecuted — based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
You may seek asylum if you are already in the United States or if you are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. If you are granted asylum, you may be permitted to remain in the United States and will likely be eligible to apply to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
Asylum can help people who have been the subjects of persecution, torture or harm in their home countries obtain relief from removal from the U.S. Asylum relief is based on the definition of “refugee,” which refers to someone who:
- As a result of a well-founded fear of being persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, was outside of his or her native country; and
- Due to that fear, was unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the persecution in that country.
Thus, in order to qualify for asylum, one must establish he or she meets the criteria to be a refugee.
In order to qualify for asylum in the U.S., an applicant has to establish that (s)he qualifies as a refugee by proving that:
- (S)he is unable or unwilling to return to the country of origin or the last country of residence.
- (S)he is unable or unwilling to avail him- or herself of the persecution in that country – While this can involve proving that the circumstances in the home country are beyond the applicant’s ability to change or control, it can also involve proving that an applicant is not willing to find protection in the home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution.
- (S)he is deserving of asylum relief.
Here, it should be noted that persecution is defined by international law as a “threat to life or freedom.”
More Important Information about Asylum
- Benefits of asylum – Asylum allows foreign nationals to lawfully remain in the U.S. indefinitely. It also allows them to apply for work authorization and, after one year, apply for legal permanent residence. Another benefit of asylum is that it is also available to the spouses and children accompanying or following principal asylum applicants.
- Time limits for applying for asylum – In general, those who wish to apply for asylum must do so within one year of arriving in the U.S. There can be exceptions to this limit, but it is generally best to pursue an asylum application as soon as possible when it is clear that this change in status is needed.
- Bars to asylum – Certain factors can immediately disqualify certain people from being eligible for asylum in the U.S. Just some of these factors can include being convicted of a serious crime, having already resettled in a third country, presenting a danger to U.S. national security or having a history of participating in the persecution of others in any way.
In addition to asylum, our attorneys can also help you obtain protection from return to a country in which you fear harm by applying for:
- Withholding of Removal
- Convention Against Torture
- Temporary Protected Status