Seeking Asylum in the U.S.

What is the process for seeking asylum in the United States?

The United States has long provided safe harbor for people that have left their home country due to persecution or fear of persecution.  Immigrants who have already made it to the U.S. can seek asylum status which will allow them to remain indefinitely within the country.  Applying for asylum can be a difficult process, however, and those seeking asylum must meet strict requirements.  

Requirements for Asylum

To qualify for asylum, or refugee status if you are not yet in the United States, you must demonstrate the following things:

  1. You are unable or unwilling to return to your home country because you have experienced persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear that you will be persecuted should you return; and
  2. The reason you have or will likely be persecuted is connected to your race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular group.  

In recent years, the government has increasingly recognized persecution based on gender, so this may also be a valid ground for your asylum.  To receive asylum status, you must file a Form I-589 within one year of your arrival within the United States.  You can include your spouse and children, who are under the age of 21 and unmarried, within the application.  

Your asylum application will need to specifically state the grounds for your persecution or fear of persecution.  Persecution can be difficult to prove.  An experienced immigration attorney will assist you with preparing your thorough asylum application so that you and your family can safely remain within the United States.

Applying to Work in the U.S.

Individuals who are granted asylum will be able to work immediately.  Those awaiting a decision on their application may be able to obtain permission to work in the U.S. if over 150 days have passed since you filed the application.  Once you have been granted asylum, you will be able to apply for a green card after one year.  Obtaining asylum is often the first step an immigrant can take towards becoming a full United States citizen with all of the rights and protections citizenship affords.