According to U.S. law, there exists a precise definition: ‘It refers to any individual located outside their own country (their country of nationality), or in the case of a refugee, a person without citizenship who is outside their country of habitual residence (recent residence). This person either lacks the ability or desire to return there or cannot or does not want to avail themselves of that country’s protection due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on racial, religious, national reasons, membership in specific social groups, or political beliefs.’
There are two categories of individuals seeking refugee status in the United States:
- Refugees who apply for refugee status while still in their home country through U.S. embassies.
- Asylees, those who find themselves on American soil and request asylum.
To apply for ‘political asylum,’ one must be physically present in the United States. Upon arrival in the U.S., it is necessary to submit the appropriate application to the immigration service. Political asylum is granted if a person is in the U.S. (on a tourist visa, another type of visa, or even illegally) and fears returning to their homeland due to past persecution (past prosecution) or has a well-founded fear of future persecution (future prosecution). The application for political asylum must be filed within one year of arriving in the U.S. If the applicant misses this deadline, they must provide evidence that they couldn’t apply on time due to exceptional circumstances or that the political situation in their home country has significantly worsened.
The person submitting an application for political asylum is called an ‘asylum applicant,’ and the person who has already been granted asylum is referred to as an ‘asylee.’ It’s important not to confuse this with a ‘refugee,’ as it involves a different legal procedure.
Political asylum in the U.S. is granted indefinitely. After one year of being granted asylum and with continuous residence in the U.S., one can apply for permanent resident status, commonly known as a ‘green card.’ It’s worth noting that after filing an asylum application and until receiving the actual status, the asylum seeker can legally remain in the United States for as long as it takes to receive a decision and can legally work after 180 days of submitting the application.
Individuals granted asylum can travel abroad after obtaining a travel document but must not return to the country where they were persecuted, as otherwise, they may lose their U.S. asylum status.
Once granted political asylum, it is possible to apply for U.S. citizenship five years after obtaining permanent resident status, as indicated on the green card.
Each year, thousands of people who face persecution or threats in their home country come to the United States seeking protection. These individuals have a well-founded fear of past or future persecution that endangers their lives or freedom based on factors such as:
- Membership in a specific social group, or
- Political beliefs.
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We use this Application form to initiate cases with our clients who are applying for asylum. We always request our clients to complete it and return it to us.