If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of political asylum in the U.S. – but how do you qualify for it, and what does it include?
Qualifying for Political Asylum in the U.S.
You are only allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S. if you’re already here, in the country, or if you’ve presented yourself to an immigration official at a border crossing. If you’re currently located outside the U.S., you need to use a different process and apply for refugee status.
In order to qualify for political asylum in the U.S., you must have a reasonable fear of persecution in your home country due to your:
- National origin
- Political opinion
- Membership in a certain group or social class
Reasonable Fear of Persecution
A reasonable fear of persecution means that you have a 10 to 15 percent chance of being persecuted. You don’t have to show immigration officials that you’ll definitely be persecuted or that you’ve been persecuted in the past. (If you have been persecuted in the past, you most likely have a reasonable fear of future persecution, but every case is different.)
What is Persecution?
Generally speaking, the infliction of suffering or harm, or the threat of loss of life or liberty, qualifies as persecution. Things like torture, long-term imprisonment or severe bodily harm count, as well. Being put under constant surveillance, being pressured to join a criminal group or being on the receiving end of discrimination in housing, passport issuance or education can also be considered persecution.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no clear-cut definition of persecution under U.S. asylum law – and that means it’s up to the USCIS official you’re dealing with to make a determination.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Immigration Issues?
Even if you don’t qualify for political asylum in the U.S., you may be eligible for refugee status or another type of immigration. It may be a good idea for you to call a Milwaukee immigration attorney who can give you legal advice that’s tailored to your situation.