Asylum is granted to people who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. One can obtain asylum if in the United States legally or illegally or refugee status if outside of the United States.
To be eligible for asylum in the United States, the applicant must
- ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport or border crossing), or
- file an application within one year of the arrival in the United States or ask later than one year if the country conditions have changed or if personal circumstances have changed within the past year prior to the filing for asylum, and those changes of circumstances affected he applicant’s eligibility for asylum.
- The applicant may also be excused from the one-year deadline if extraordinary circumstances prevented him or her from filing within the one-year period after the arrival, so long as the application is made within a reasonable time given those circumstances.
A person can apply for asylum with the Asylum Office (affirmative asylum) and/or with the Immigration Court (defensive asylum).
- The application is initially made with the Asylum Office if the applicant has notbeen placed in removal proceedings. An Asylum Officer will interview the applicant and decide the eligibility for asylum. Asylum Officers will grant asylum, deny asylum or refer the case to an Immigration Judge for a final decision.
- If the applicant has been placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in Immigration Court, either through referral by the Asylum Officer or through the action of other government officers, an Immigration Judge will hear and decide the application for asylum and the removal case. If the applicant is denied asylum and is not eligible for any other relief from deportation, the Immigration Judge will order the removal from the United States.
A person granted asylum will be allowed to live and work in the United States and can apply for permanent resident status one year after the grant of asylum. Also, the person granted asylum can apply for immediate relatives to follow them to the United States within 2 years of the asylum grant.