If you are facing political persecution in your home country, you should strongly consider seeking political asylum in the United States. These are numerous political asylum benefits associated with becoming an asylee (a person granted asylum), including eventually being able to apply for citizenship. Choosing to become an asylee in the United States can be a fresh start for you and your family. Reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and how to apply for political asylum.
Asylum is a protection that is granted to foreign nationals who are already in the United States or who are at the border and meet the international definition of a “refugee.” According to the United Nations, a refugee is defined as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country and cannot obtain protection in that country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being prosecuted in the future. This fear is on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. This definition was incorporated into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980 that was passed by Congress.
Political Asylum Benefits
As an asylee, you are granted many political asylum benefits while you are in the United States. These include being protected from returning to your home country, being authorized to work, applying for a Social Security card, traveling overseas, and petitioning to bring family members to the U.S. You may also be eligible to receive political asylum benefits like Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance. You can also find more benefits from a local refugee resettlement agency which could include cash, housing, help with government benefits, counseling or therapy, and a driver’s license. After you have been an asylee for one year, you may apply for permanent residence status, also known as a green card. Once you become a permanent resident, after four years you may apply for citizenship.
Regardless of immigration status, you may apply for asylum within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may apply while you are already in the U.S. or while you are at a port of entry. To be eligible for asylum, you must meet the U.S. immigration legal definition of a refugee. There are exceptions to the one year rule if you show changed circumstances materially affecting your asylum eligibility or extraordinary circumstances relating to your delay in filing.
Changed circumstances may include, but are not limited to, things like conditions in your home country, changes in applicable U.S. law and activities you become involved in outside the country of persecution that place you at risk, if you were previously a dependent on someone else’s pending asylum application, the loss of spouse of parent-child relationship to the principal applicant through marriage, divorce, death, or attainment of age 21.
Extraordinary circumstances may include, but are not limited to, serious illness or mental or physical disability, including any effects of persecution or violent harm suffered in the past, during the one year period after your arrival to the U.S., and legal disability, such as your status as an unaccompanied minor or you suffered for a mental impairment, during the one year period after your arrival in the U.S.
You are ineligible to apply for asylum if you have previously applied for asylum and were denied by the Immigration Judge or Board of Immigration Appeals unless you are able to demonstrate changed circumstances that affect your eligibility. You are also ineligible for asylum if you have been found to pose a danger to the U.S.
How to Apply
There are two ways in which you can apply for political asylum benefits, and for both of them, you must be physically present in the United States. The first way is affirmative asylum and is for you if you are not in the removal proceedings. Defensive asylum is for you if you are currently in removal proceedings.
The burden of proving that you meet the legal definition of a refugee falls on you. You will have to provide substantial evidence that demonstrates past persecution or that you have a “well-founded fear” of future persecution in your home country.
If you are in the expedited removal process, the credible fear and reasonable fear screening processes are available to you. An asylum officer will determine if you have a credible fear of persecution or torture and that there is a significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum or other protection under the Convention Against Torture. In the reasonable fear screening, you must demonstrate that there is a reasonable possibility that you will be tortured in your country or persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The reasonable fear standard is higher than the credible fear standard. Contact an immigration attorney for assistance with obtaining political asylum.