Can You Apply for Asylum?
Updated: Jan 11
Many non-citizens wonder if they can apply for asylum in the U.S. What follows is a brief overview of the asylum process. For a more extended discussion of applying for asylum, consult an attorney.
Can you apply for asylum?
Any non-citizen may apply for asylum. You may apply for asylum even if you are not legally present in the U.S.
You may apply for asylum if, you cannot return to your county of nationality because of persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution, based on
· Membership in a particular social group, or
· Political opinion
If you have no nationality, you may apply for asylum if you cannot return to the county where you habitually reside, because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of the above five grounds.
“Persecution” means “a threat to the life or freedom of, or the infliction of suffering upon, those who differ in a way regarded as offensive.” You may apply for asylum if you have a “well-founded fear” of persecution. “Well-founded fear” means that a reasonable person in your circumstances would fear persecution if she were to be returned to her native country.
If you have been persecuted in your native country in the past, there is a presumption that you have a well-founded fear of future persecution. This presumption may be rebutted, if it can be shown that there has been a fundamental change of circumstances in your native county, or if you could avoid future persecution by relocating to another part of your native country.
You may not be granted asylum if you:
· Have persecuted others;
· Pose a danger to the security of the United States;
· Are inadmissible or removable for terrorist activity; or
· Have been convicted of a serious crime, posing a danger to the community. Aggravated felonies are considered serious crimes.
How do you apply for asylum?
File Form I-589 with the USCIS.
What benefits do you receive by applying for asylum?
If you are granted asylum, you can have the following benefits:
· You will be allowed to live and work in the U.S. until the government terminates your asylum.
· You will have an opportunity to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. After you become an LPR, you may, after a certain period of years, apply to become a U.S. citizen. For further information on how to become a citizen after you have been granted asylum, click here.
· Within two years of being granted asylum, you may file a petition for your spouse and children to be granted asylum.
While your application is pending (that is, before USCIS makes any decision whether to grant or deny you asylum) you have the following benefits:
· After you file your petition, you will be deemed legally present in the U.S., and you will be allowed to remain in the U.S.
· 150 days after USCIS receives your petition, you may request permission to work in the U.S. After you file your request, USCIS has 30 days to grant or deny your request for work authorization. However, USCIS cannot grant your request for work authorization, less than 180 days after they receive your asylum application.