Asylum

ASYLUM APPLICATIONS

Asylum may be given to persons who are already residing in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their native country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of nationality, religion, political opinion, race or membership in a particular social group. If you are granted asylum, you will be allowed to live and work in the United States. Moreover, you will be able to apply for permanent resident status one year from the date you are granted asylum.

When you apply for political asylum, the petition may include your spouse and any unmarried children that are under the age of 21 as long as your spouse or children are in the United States. If your spouse or children happen to be outside of the United States they may be eligible to apply for derivative status.

Refugee status and asylum status are two legal conditions that are closely related. The only difference between the two is the place where a person requests for the status. Asylum is asked for in the United States; refugee status is asked for outside of the United States. However, all people who are granted asylum must meet the definition of a refugee.


In order a person to be eligible for asylum in the United States, you must ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport or border crossing), or file an application within one year of your arrival to the United States. You may ask later than one year if conditions in your country have changed or if your personal circumstances have changed within the past year prior to you’re asking for asylum, and those changes of circumstances affected your eligibility for asylum. Additionaly you may well also be excused from the one year deadline if an extraordinary circumstance has prevented you from filing within the one year period after your arrival, so long as you apply within a reasonable time given those circumstances.

An application for asylum may be filed regardless of the immigration status you have, this means that you may apply for asylum even if you are illegally in the United States.

Furthermore, you must qualify for asylum under the definition of a refugee. Your eligibility will be based on the information you provide on your application and during an interview with an Immigration Judge or Asylum Officer. If you have been placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in Immigration Court, an Immigration Judge will hear you case and make a decision about your legal status in the United States. If you have not been placed in removal proceedings and apply with the INS, an Asylum Officer will interview you and decide whether you are eligible for asylum. Asylum Officers will grant asylum, deny asylum or refer the case to an Immigration Judge for a final decision. If an Asylum Officer decides that you are not eligible for asylum and you are in the United States illegally, the Asylum Officer will then place you in removal proceedings and refer your application to an Immigration Judge for a final decision. Immigration Judges may also decide on removal if an applicant is found ineligible for asylum and is illegally in the United States. If you are in valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status and the Asylum Officer finds that you are not eligible for asylum, the Asylum Officer will send you a notice explaining that the INS intends to deny your request for asylum. You will be given an opportunity to respond to that notice before a decision is made on your application.

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