Do you feel you must flee your home country to find safety and security? If so, applying for asylum in the United States may be an option. But before you get too excited, it’s important to make sure that you meet the requirements of asylum under U.S. law.
In this guide, we’ll explain what asylum is and how the U.S. handles asylum applications, as well as provide resources to help you through the process. Let’s get started!
What is Asylum?
Before we dive into the details of the asylum process, it’s important to understand what asylum is and who qualifies.
An asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who have faced persecution or fear persecution in their home countries due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
It allows those individuals to remain in the United States and receive benefits such as access to healthcare, education, work authorization, and a path to citizenship.
Overview of U.S. asylum laws
The United States has several laws and regulations that govern how it handles asylum applications. The two most important are the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Refugee Act of 1980, which set out the legal grounds for asylum eligibility and the procedures for applying for asylum.
In addition, the INA specifies certain bars to asylum eligibility, such as participation in persecution or terrorist activities, for which individuals will be denied asylum.
Finally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued regulations that provide additional guidance and detail on how it processes asylum applications. These regulations are known as “8 CFR 208.”
Applying for Asylum
Now that you have a basic understanding of the asylum process and its regulations let’s move on to how to apply for asylum in the United States.
To be eligible for asylum in the United States, you must meet the definition of a refugee under U.S. law or have been granted withholding of removal by an immigration judge.
This means that you must demonstrate that you have suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution based on one of five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and membership in a particular social group.
You must provide documentary evidence that shows why you need to seek asylum in the United States. Your application should include:
• A personal statement explaining your reasons for seeking asylum.
• Proof that you have been persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
• Evidence of any physical or mental harm you may have suffered due to persecution.
• Documents proving your identity, including a passport and driver’s license.
• Any other supporting documents, such as letters from family members or friends detailing the persecution you have faced.
And that’s it! Providing all the necessary documentation will help make your application process smoother, but remember: even if you don’t have all the documents listed above, you can still apply for asylum.
Form to fill out (Form I-589)
Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, complete Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, this form is available on the USCIS website.
Submitting your request
Once you have completed your application, you must submit it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can mail in your application, drop it off at a local USCIS office, or submit it online.
Interview and decision
Once your application is received by USCIS, you will be notified of an interview with an Immigration Officer. This interview is the last step in the asylum process and will determine whether you are granted asylum.
After Applying for Asylum
Now that you have submitted your application, there are still some steps to take before you can be granted asylum in the United States. Here is a brief overview of what those steps involve:
Working while waiting
If your application has been pending for over six months, you may be eligible to apply for work authorization in the United States. This will allow you to work legally in the U.S. while processing your application.
Receiving legal representation
Although it is not required, it can be beneficial to obtain legal representation from an experienced immigration attorney or another qualified professional. This can help ensure that your application is properly prepared and submitted and will also provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the process.
Path to citizenship
Once you have been granted asylum in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship after one year of continuous residence in the U.S. You should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if you are eligible.
Staying informed on changes in U.S. asylum policy
It is important to keep up-to-date with changes in U.S. asylum policy, as these can impact your eligibility and the process of applying for asylum. The USCIS website is a good source of information on current asylum laws and policies.
Resources available to help with the process
Many organizations provide free or low-cost legal services to those seeking asylum in the United States. These organizations can assist with the application process, such as helping you to fill out the required forms, providing legal advice, and representing you in court.
At the end of the day, applying for asylum in the United States isn’t going to be easy—but it is possible. It’s important to do research, reach out for support and make sure you have all your documents in order before submitting your application. With luck and determination, you can get the life-saving protection you need! Good luck!
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the process, remember that there are organizations out there dedicated to helping people navigate through the asylum system. Don’t be afraid to seek help and support when needed—you don’t have to do this alone.
Neda Zaman Esq.
Immigration Attorney in Encino, Los Angeles
Services in English, Farsi, Arabic, Armenian, Turkish
Address: 16633 Ventura Blvd suite 510, Encino, CA 91436
Phone: +1(310)855-0992 | +1(818)290-3625