Asylum status offers special legal protections to individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country for fear of persecution due to race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a specific social group. If granted, asylum visas allow you to remain in the United States indefinitely. You are also able to apply for a green card within one-year of being approved for asylum and are given permission to work.
While being granted asylum status can provide the ultimate form of protection, not everyone qualifies. You must meet strict requirements to become an asylee in the U.S.
Eligibility for Asylum Status
To be deemed eligible for asylum, you must meet certain requirements. Mainly, you must be unable or unwilling to return to your home country due to experiencing persecution in the past or due to a well-founded fear that you may be persecuted if you return. Persecution can mean to punish, harass, oppress, ore cause someone to suffer some level of psychological or physical harm. This may include inappropriate imprisonment, torture, threats, violence, or denial of basic human freedoms or rights. In some cases, examples of persecution are written in laws, such as fear of being forced to undergo coercive population control programs.
The threat in your home country must be nationwide in order to be a well-founded fear or persecution. If you can avoid the issue by moving to another part of the country, you will likely not be granted asylum status. You may also be denied asylum if someone holds a grudge against you, has committed crimes against you for personal reasons, or for economic reasons. Also understand that the source of persecution does not necessarily need to come from the government or other local authorities like the police.
In some cases, the conditions in a country may get better over time. However, if you have suffered persecution in your home country in the past, you may fear future acts of persecution regardless of the country’s current state. While there is no guarantee that you will be granted asylum, you may still be successful in acquiring asylum status through humanitarian asylum. This program requires you to demonstrate reasons for not returning to your country due to past persecution or fear of future harm. To show that you suffer from “well-founded” fear, you must demonstrate both objective and subjective reasonable fear.
Obtaining Asylum in the United States
There are two main ways to obtain asylum status in the U.S. The first is through affirmative asylum processing with the USCIS which requires you to be physically present in the U.S. The second is through defensive asylum processing with EOIR, which requires you to be in removal proceedings in immigration court. Speak with an immigration lawyer today to see which the better option for you is.