Asylum

You may be eligible for asylum if you fear to return to your home country because of persecution based on one of the following:

  • race,
  • religion,
  • nationality,
  • political views, or
  • membership in a particular social group

Applications for asylum usually must be filed within one year of your entry into the United States.

Some frequently asked questions:

  1. Can I still apply for asylum even if I am in the United States illegally?

Yes, you may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status so long as you file your application within one year of your last arrival or demonstrate that you are eligible for an exception to that rule.

  1. How will the asylum officer make the decision about whether to grant me asylum?

The Asylum Officer will evaluate your testimony, the information you provide on your application, and any supplementary materials you submit to determine if you are a refugee and whether any mandatory bars apply. The Asylum Officer will also evaluate the credibility of your claim.  In addition, the Asylum Officer will consider country condition information from reliable sources.

  1. Can I work will my asylum application is pending?

You may apply for employment authorization if:

  • 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview)

AND

  • No decision has been made on your application

If you are granted asylum you may work immediately.

  1. What will be my status after I am granted Asylum?

You will have asylee status. You will receive an I-94 Arrival and Departure record documenting that you are able to remain indefinitely in the United States as an asylee. You will be authorized to work in the United States for as long as you remain in asylee status. You may obtain a photo-identity document from USCIS evidencing your employment authorization by applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You will also be able to request derivative asylum status for any spouse or child (unmarried and under 21 years of age as of the date you filed the asylum application, as long as your asylum application was pending on or after August 6, 2002) who was not included as a dependent in your asylum decision and with whom you have a qualifying relationship. This means that you will be able to petition to bring your spouse and/or children to the United States, or allow them to remain in the United States indefinitely incident to your asylee status.

  1. Can Asylum status be terminated?

Yes. Your asylee status may be terminated if you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution because of a fundamental change in circumstances, you have obtained protection from another country, or you have committed certain crimes or engaged in other activity that makes you ineligible to retain asylum status in the United States. See INA § 208(c)(2). An asylee is not a lawful permanent resident. You may apply for lawful permanent resident status after you have been physically present in the United States for a period of one year after the date you were granted asylum status.

  1. What does it mean to be referred to Immigration Court?

This means that the Asylum Officer was unable to approve your asylum application and you are not currently in valid status. You will receive charging documents that place you in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Your asylum application will be referred to the Immigration Court for an Immigration Judge to decide during the removal proceedings.