The U.S.’s asylum process can be complicated – and many people end up working with an attorney to ask for safe haven within the country. Asylum is only available to people who are being persecuted (or who are in danger of being persecuted) in their home countries, so here’s what you need to know if you’re considering it.
The Asylum Process in the United States
If you want to obtain asylum in the U.S., you must present yourself to immigration authorities and claim a credible fear of persecution based on:
- Political opinion
- Membership in a social group
You must have a valid fear or past experience with persecution in your home country. Otherwise, your petition for asylum will be denied.
What is Persecution for Purposes of Asylum in the U.S.?
Persecution can fall into several categories, including discrimination, physical abuse, harassment, unjust arrest or imprisonment, or another type of harm. However, the U.S. will only grant you asylum if the persecution you experienced is due to one of the five factors listed above. The persecution can’t be from just anyone, either – it must come from your home country’s government or from forces that your government can’t control, like guerrilla groups.
The Asylum Interview
U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will require you to come in for an interview if you’re asking for asylum in the United States. You’ll have to talk about all the facts you listed in your asylum application to prove that you have a credible, well-founded fear of persecution (or that you’ve been persecuted in the past). After your interview – but not on the same day – the U.S. government will make a decision about your application.
Are There Alternatives to Asylum?
If you’re outside the U.S., you won’t apply for asylum. Instead, you’ll ask for refugee status. You must meet the same criteria for persecution that you would to become an asylee.
Related: Asylum vs. refugee status
There are other alternatives, though. If you cannot prove a well-founded fear of persecution or show that you’ve been persecuted in the past (and that your persecution is likely to continue), there may be other ways for you to enter the United States lawfully.
If you’re considering immigrating to the U.S. for any reason, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your immigration consultation today, or contact us online.