Applying for Asylum in the U.S.
The United States has often been considered a destination for those wanting a better life. Some come for improved economic opportunities. Others come to the U.S. to escape persecution in their home country. Those fleeing persecution can seek asylum in the U.S.
Each year, thousands of people arrive at our borders seeking protection from prosecution.
The Refugee Act of 1980 mandated the creation of an asylum application process. The U.S. government grants asylum to individuals who suffered from persecution in their country of origin (or would suffer from persecution if they were forced to return).
To qualify for asylum, you must face persecution based on at least one of the following:
- Membership in a social group
- Political opinion
You must apply for asylum within a year of initially arriving in the United States. You can include your spouse and children on your application, but your children must be under 21 and unmarried to qualify.
How Do I Apply for Asylum?
There are two types of application, Affirmative and Defensive. In Affirmative applications, you are not in removal proceedings and may affirmatively apply for asylum through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I Defensive applications, you are in removal proceedings and may apply for asylum defensively by filing the application with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice.
An Asylum Officer will consider your testimony and application in determining whether to grant asylum. There is currently no fee to apply for asylum. The limits on asylum grants varies greatly and is set by the President. The annual asylum limits have ranged from 90,000 to as few as 15,000.
If you application is denied, you can file an appeal.
Are Background Checks Conducted on Asylum Seekers?
Yes. Your biographical information is sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement databases. If you are between 12 years and 9 months of age and 79 years of age, your fingerprints also will be taken and sent to law enforcement as well as used to positively identify you during the interview process.
What Happens After I Am Granted Asylum?
You may stay in the U.S. indefinitely as long as you maintain good standing. Once granted asylum, you can obtain work authorization and, after a year of living in the U.S., apply for a green card. If you wish to travel outside of the U.S. you must obtain a Refugee Travel Document in advance of your trip to re-enter the U.S. You also can apply for a Social Security Card as well as Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance.
You are allowed to file for your spouse an unmarried children to join you in the U.S. This must take place withing 2 years of your arrival in the U.S. You also can file an Affidavit of Relationship for your parents to be allowed entry.
Can an Asylee Become a Citizen?
Yes. An asylee must apply for permanent status, a green card, one year after coming to the U.S. After permanent status, an asylee must wait four years before applying for citizenship.
Can Asylum Be Revoked?
Yes. Asylee status can be terminated if you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution. It also can be terminated if you commit crimes that make you ineligible.
Applying for Asylum Status
Immigration laws and policies change. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand the latest changes and how they affect you.
Do you need help filing for asylum in the U.S.? Call Harrison Law Office, P.C. at (415) 212-6817 or contact us online for a consultation.