Who Can Seek Asylum?

Living in safety is a basic human right. Unfortunately, the world is not always a peaceful or friendly place. Each year, many people arrive in the U.S. knowing that they may be persecuted if they return home due to their race, religion, or even political opinions. Some face harassment and discrimination, while others face torture and even death.

The United Nations Convention against Torture is an international human rights treaty designed to prevent people from being subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. If you are in the United States and genuinely fear that returning to your country of origin will result in persecution, torture, and even death, you may be eligible for asylum.

What Are the Grounds for Seeking Asylum?

According to U.S. immigration law, you can apply for asylum status if you meet three requirements:

  • You live outside your home country or country of nationality.
  • You can’t rely on that country’s government to protect you from persecution.
  • The persecution you fear must be based on your religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group.

To qualify for asylum, persecution must go beyond discrimination or harassment. The definition of persecution includes arrest, detention, violence, sexual assault, and significant economic deprivation. These actions must be caused by the government itself or parties that it clearly can’t or won’t control.

Additionally, you must not be ineligible to apply for asylum or be otherwise inadmissible to the U.S. Grounds for inadmissibility or deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act include but are not limited to: 

  • Crimes of a serious nature, such as a violent felony.
  • Participating in the persecution of others.
  • Membership in a group that has been a threat to national security in the past
  • Fraudulent or incomplete applications.

You must file your asylum application within a year of arriving in the United States. You won’t necessarily lose your claim if you don’t meet the deadline, but you will have to demonstrate that you qualify for an exception.

What Are the Different Types Of Asylum?

When applying for asylum, you have two options. Which one you choose depends on your circumstances.

  • Affirmative asylum is when you apply directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must be physically present in the United States, complete and submit Form I-589 and supporting documents, and attend an interview at a USCIS Asylum Office. You will receive a decision within 180 days. If your application is denied, you may have your case reconsidered by an immigration judge during removal proceedings.
  • Defensive asylum occurs when you seek asylum as a defense against removal proceedings. If you are arrested for being undocumented or violating your immigration status, this option may be suitable. An immigration judge will hear your case. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal before deportation.

Alternatives To Asylum

In the event that immigration officials reject your application or you do not qualify for asylum status in the U.S., you may have other options. They include:

  • Withholding of removal, which may be granted to those who are ineligible for asylum but whose lives may be endangered if deported.
  • The T visa, which allow victims of human trafficking to remain temporarily in the U.S. if they provide law enforcement with evidence against the perpetrators.
  • The U visa, which protects those who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement efforts against criminal activity.

Contact an Immigration Attorney

If you fear that returning to your home country will result in persecution, contact Csepes Law immediately. Our compassionate and dedicated asylum application team can help you safeguard your well-being and your future. No one should live in fear for their life, so let our firm help you protect yours.

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