A grant of asylum allows foreign nationals to legally stay in the U.S. Individuals who leave their homeland to avoid persecution may apply for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or in immigration court.
A grant of asylum allows foreign nationals to legally stay in the U.S. Individuals who leave their homeland to avoid persecution may apply for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or in immigration court. Many foreign nationals choose to undergo the legal asylum process because of the humanitarian rights and freedoms available to citizens and immigrants in the U.S. People granted asylum by the U.S. government may thereafter apply for permanent residence (green card).
Am I Eligible for Asylum?
You may be eligible to apply for asylum if you can provide proof that you have experienced persecution in your native country in the past or that there is a possibility that you may be persecuted in your homeland in the future. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lists the potential reasons for persecution:
- Political Opinion
- Membership in a Particular Social Group
You will be legally allowed to remain in the U.S. if you have been granted asylum.
What Is Persecution?
Persecution describes hostile actions or practices designed to harm people who are different in terms of racial or national origin, religious or political beliefs, and social affiliation. It goes beyond simple harassment because it leads to the persecuted individuals or groups’ physical, emotional, or mental injury.
You might be granted asylum if you encountered past persecution or fear of future persecution. However, past persecution is not a requirement for application. You are eligible to apply if your fear of future persecution has a reasonable basis. In addition, you must prove you have objective reasons for anticipating potential persecution.
How Can I Apply for Asylum?
You can apply for asylum by completing the legal asylum process. Follow these steps as recommended by the USCIS:
Step 1: Be Physically Present in the U.S.
You must be physically present in the U.S. How you arrived in the U.S. and your current immigration status does not matter as long as you stay in the country.
Step 2: Apply Within One Year of Your U.S. Arrival
Make sure to apply for asylum within one year of your arrival in the U.S. The only exceptions are if you can establish that changed circumstances significantly impacted your qualifications for asylum or pressing situations that caused the filing to be delayed.
Step 3: Submit Form I-589
Fill out and submit Form I-589 to the USCIS within the one-year time frame or under a reasonable amount of time given the changed circumstances. This form is officially called “Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.”
Step 4: Provide Proof as a Refugee
You must establish that you are a legitimate refugee. A refugee is a person who is presently staying outside of their homeland and cannot return to their own country because of existing or potential persecution.
To prove you are a refugee, you should submit documentation showing you have suffered persecution in the past or that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. Here are some examples of supporting evidence:
- A written declaration that shares your story as a refugee
- Medical records that serve as proof of persecution
- News publications that discuss hostility towards specific groups
- U.S. Department of State reports about crimes against particular groups and the local government’s failure to stop these crimes
While the documentation may vary from case to case, the supporting evidence must be solid enough to support your claim. Do not fabricate any evidence since this could cause your case to be considered a frivolous asylum application. This act is one of the most serious immigration-related offenses you can commit, and it could prevent you from receiving any immigration benefits in the future.
Can I Include My Family in My Asylum Application?
Yes, you can include your spouse and children in your application as long as they are staying in the U.S. with you during the time of filing or before the final decision has been made regarding your case. Note that you can only include your children in your application if they are under 21 years of age and are not married.
What Can I Do if My Asylum Application Is Not Approved?
If your asylum application is denied, you will receive a Notice to Appear (NTA). Your case will be referred to an immigration judge from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The judge will conduct a new hearing and issue a new decision apart from the original decision of the USCIS.
Asylum can offer you freedom and protection from persecution in your native country. However, applying for this form of deportation defense can be a complex, time-consuming process. Get in touch with us to consult with immigration attorneys specializing in removal defense. We have expertly handled immigration cases for more than four decades, and we can help you complete the asylum process so you can peacefully live in the United States!