Are you eligible for asylum in the United States?
You qualify for asylum in the US if you have been persecuted or 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.
Use Form I-589 to apply for asylum. Attach a detailed affidavit and documentation in support of your application. There is no filing fee.
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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. Should your application be denied, you will remain in lawful status.
However, if you are not in lawful status, should your 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).
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 application has been pending for over 150 days, you may apply for a work permit using form I-765. If your application is approved, 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.
- Gender-Based Claims
- Firm Resettlement
- Convention Against Torture
- LGBT-Based Claims
- One Child Policy
- One Year Filing Requirement
- Temporary Protected Status
- Withholding of Removal
The page is divided into the following subtopics:
- General Information
- Success Stories
- Section 209 Adjustment of Status
- Articles and Reports
- Credible & Reasonable Fear FAQs
- Asylum (USCIS)
- Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin (USCIS)
- Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Western U.S.)
- Eligibility and Applications FAQ (USCIS)
- Services Available for Asylees and Refugees (USCIS)
- Office Locator (USCIS)
- Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual (USCIS)
- Country-Specific Information (USCIS)
- Useful Documents for Attorneys Representing Asylum Seekers (NIJC)
- I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- USCIS Processing of Asylum Cases (USCIS)
ASYLUM SUCCESS STORIES
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)
ARTICLES AND REPORTS
- Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016 (10-19-15)
- 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)
- Employment Authorization: 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
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1999 – Present)
- Immigration Judge Reports (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)
- Guidance on Immediate Family Members in Credible Fear (USCIS, 6-27-14)