Immigrants come to the U.S. for a number of reasons. Some of these immigrants have suffered persecution in their home countries and are seeking protection.
For these immigrants, the U.S. offers asylum. Anyone can seek asylum if they have been persecuted against or fear persecution due to their:
- Membership of a particular social group
- A political opinion
How to apply
Immigrants may apply for asylum if they are at a port of entry or already in the U.S. Regardless of your immigration status, you can apply for asylum. Asylum applications must be submitted within one year of arriving to the country.
You can apply for asylum outside of the one-year timeline if you qualify for an exception. Usually this means you show changed circumstances materially affecting your asylum eligibility or you show extraordinary circumstances relating to your delay in filing. The application must still be filed within a reasonable amount of time to be eligible.
Changed and extraordinary circumstances may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in conditions in your country of nationality (your country of last habitual residence if you are stateless)
- Changes in your circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum, such as changes in applicable U.S. law and activities you become involved in outside of the country of feared persecution that place you at risk
- If you were previously included as a dependent in another individual’s pending asylum application, the loss of the spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal applicant through marriage, divorce, death or reaching age 21
- Serious illness or mental or physical disability, including the effects of past harm suffered due to persecution, during the one-year period after your arrival
- Legal disability, such as your status as an unaccompanied minor or you suffered from a mental impairment, during the one-year period after your arrival
Immigrants interested in applying for asylum can file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. The process typically takes up to 180 days from filing to be completed.
If you need assistance with filing for asylum or would like someone to help you through the interview process, you can work with an immigration attorney who is experienced with applications and proceedings to keep immigrants in the country.