You can apply for asylum in the US if you have a “well-founded fear of persecution” in your country based on (1) political opinion, (2) religion, (3) race, (4) nationality, or (5) membership in a particular social group.
There is no government filing fee for applying for asylum.
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If you are outside the US, you may apply for refugee status based on these same criteria. Your fear of persecution must be either by the government of your country or by a group that the government is unable or unwilling to control.
If you are able to establish past persecution, a presumption arises that you have established a well-founded fear of persecution. The burden of proof shifts to the government to demonstrate that circumstances have changed and that you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution or that you could avoid persecution by relocating in another part of your country and that it would be reasonable for you to do so.
If you are in lawful immigration status, you can submit an application for asylum directly with the appropriate USCIS Service Center specified in the instructions. Should your application be denied, you will remain in lawful status.
However, if you are not in lawful status, should your asylum application not be approved by the USCIS, you will be placed in removal proceedings. If you are in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge, in addition to applying for asylum, you may be eligible to apply for withholding of removal and for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
In order to qualify for withholding of removal, you must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that you will be persecuted if you are forced to return to your country. This is a higher standard than the “well-founded fear” standard for asylum which can be met if the person has at least a 10% chance of being persecuted. Also, unlike asylum, obtaining withholding of removal or relief under CAT does not necessarily lead to permanent residence in the US.
Under Convention Against Torture (CAT), the six elements of “torture” are as follows:
- An intentional act;
- Infliction of severe pain or suffering;
- Under the custody or control of the offender;
- For a broad array of wrongful purposes;
- By or sanctioned by a public official; and
- Not arising out of lawful sanctions.
If the government can demonstrate that you have firmly resettled in a 3rd country, you are ineligible for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT. Generally, you must apply for asylum within one year after arriving in the US. However, there are various exceptions to this rule.
Once your asylum application has been pending for over 150 days, you may apply for a work permit using form I-765. If you are granted asylum, and your spouse and/or children are outside the US, use form I-730 to bring them to the US as asylees. One year after you are granted asylum, you may apply for a green card.
Asylum is divided into the following subtopics:
- Asylum Success Story
- One Child Policy Asylum
- General Information
- Asylee Adjustment of Status
- Temporary Protected Status
- Articles and Reports
- Credible & Reasonable Fear FAQs
ASYLUM SUCCESS STORY
- Asylum (USCIS)
- Asylum in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Western U.S.)
- Asylum Eligibility and Applications FAQ (USCIS)
- Services Available for Asylees and Refugees (USCIS)
- Asylum Office Locator (USCIS)
- Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual (USCIS)
- Country-Specific Information (USCIS)
- I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
ASYLEE ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS
- Implementation of Ngwanyia Settlement Agreement
- AILF Announces Settlement of Asylee Adjustment Lawsuit
- Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft - Complete Text of Decision (2-12-04)
TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (USCIS)
- TPS Extended for Haitians (3-3-14)
- TPS Eyed for Philippines due to Yolanda (12-11-13)
- TPS Extended for Somalis (11-6-13)
- TPS Extended for Syrians (6-17-13)
- TSP Extended for Salvadorans (5-30-13)
- TPS Extended for Hondurans (4-3-13)
- TPS Extended for Nicaraguans (4-3-13)
- TPS Redesignations and Extensions for Sudan and South Sudan (USCIS)(1-9-13)
- TPS Re-Registration Period Extended for Haitians (USCIS) (12-27-12)
- TPS Extended for Haitians (USCIS) (10-1-12)
ARTICLES AND REPORTS
- Special Immigrant Visa Program Extended for Afghans (May 2014)
- Mexican and Central American Asylum and Credible Fear Claims: Background and Context (5-21-14)
- Chandra v. Holder, Jr., U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Motions to Reopen (5-12-14)
- Asylum Office Workload through January 2014 (4-11-14)
- Asylum Division Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting Statistics through January 2014 (2-10-14)
- Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock (2-5-14)
- Court Approves Settlement in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers (11-5-13)
- U.S. Reaches its Refugee Admissions Target for First Time Since 1980 (10-21-13)
- ABT Settlement Agreement (5-10-13)
- Oshodi v. Holder: Petitioner Has Constitutional Right to Testify in Support of Asylum Application (8-27-13)
- Final Rule: Forwarding of Asylum Applications to the DOS (3-29-13)
- INS Memo on Child Status Protection Act and Asylum
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1999 – Present)
- Immigration Judge Reports — Asylum (TRAC)
- International Religious Freedom Reports (2001 – Present)
- Trafficking in Persons Reports (2001 – Present)
- Closing the Asylum Door by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & David Neal (1995)
- Seeking Asylum in the U.S. by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & Michael Straus (1991)
CREDIBLE & REASONABLE FEAR FAQs
- Credible Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- Reasonable Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)