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.


asylum “I can honestly say that Mr. Carl Shusterman and his team are probably the best in the business when it comes to immigration matters. Carl’s greatest asset is his prior work experience as a former INS prosecutor. My family and I were on the verge of being deported from the United States. Because of Carl’s expertise and dedication, not only are we allowed to remain in this country permanently but are on path of obtaining citizenship…” (More client reviews…)

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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 Asylum 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:


  1. An intentional act;
  2. Infliction of severe pain or suffering;
  3. Under the custody or control of the offender;
  4. For a broad array of wrongful purposes;
  5. By or sanctioned by a public official; and
  6. 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:






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