Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international definition of a “refugee.”
To qualify for asylum in the US you must demonstrate that 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.
An asylee is authorized to work in the U.S., may apply for a social security card, may request permission to travel overseas, and can petition to bring family members to the United States.
After one year, an asylee may apply for lawful permanent resident status (i.e., a green card). Once the individual becomes a permanent resident, he or she must wait four years to apply for citizenship.
Asylum application process:
There are two primary ways in which a person may apply for asylum in the United States. Both processes require the asylum-seeker to be physically present in the United States.
If you are still in your home country, and the above applies to you, you may be able to get refugee status, instead of asylee status. “Refugee” is a person who is living outside the United States and intends to enter the U.S. because he or she fears persecution in his or her home country.
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).
To learn more about your options contact our San Francisco law firm to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.