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Who qualifies for the asylum process in the United States?

Many people come to the United States in search of new opportunities. Some want to pursue an education. Others want to work to support their family. Still others want to join their loved ones and keep their family whole. For those seeking freedom from persecution, entry into the United States often requires going through the asylum process.

Who qualifies for asylum in the United States?

The United States offers asylum to those fleeing persecution or likely future persecution in another country. To qualify for asylum, this persecution or well-founded fear of persecution must be based on the applicant’s race, religion, nationality, gender or political position.

What opportunities does the asylum process offer?

People granted asylum in the united states are protected from the persecution in their own country and allowed to live and work in the United States. In addition, they may:

  • Apply for a social security card and government programs like Medicaid
  • Travel overseas with permission
  • Bring family members to the United States through a petition
  • Apply for permanent resident status, also called a green card, after one year of residence

After four years living in the United States as a permanent resident, people granted asylum may apply for citizenship.

What is the process for seeking asylum?

The United States recognizes two different process for those seeking asylum. Those who face deportation—often people already in deportation proceedings or detained by border patrol—can apply for defensive asylum. In this process, they will argue their case in a courtroom-like setting and an immigration judge will determine whether they meet the requirements for asylum.

For those currently in the United States but not currently in deportation proceedings, the affirmative asylum process begins with their arrival in the United States. Those seeking asylum through this process must file within one year of arrival in the United States unless they can show extraordinary circumstances delayed them. Upon arrival, they must file the necessary forms, undergo background and security checks and interview with an asylum officer before they receive their decision.

The asylum process can take years, and the complex process can add stress to an already difficult time. An immigration attorney can help asylum-seekers apply for asylum, navigate the paperwork necessary for working in the United States while waiting for their interview and more.