Understanding How to Apply for Asylum
People who have fled their native countries out of fear of persecution may be given asylum as protection. The right to seek asylum is based on international law, including treaties and U.S. laws enacted after the atrocities of World War II. Asylum applicants must submit their application a year after arriving in the country unless they are eligible for an exemption. Corroboration of a claim can include personal testimony, background country conditions materials, and expert witness statements.
What is Asylum?
Asylum is the right to remain in another country, granted by the United States and other countries through treaties. People who seek asylum are known as asylum seekers or refugees.
Those granted asylum can now legally work and are eligible for several government aid programs. Additionally, they can become citizens. At a point of entry or once they have arrived, anyone can apply for asylum in the U.S. They must demonstrate that they are being persecuted or have a legitimate fear of being victimized because of their race, religion, nationality, affiliation with a particular social group, political viewpoint, or sexual orientation. Some individuals are barred from asylum, such as those who commit a serious crime or pose a danger to others.
What are the Asylum Grounds?
Persecution is severe harm a person could suffer that the government or individuals in power cannot or will not stop. Defensive asylum claims can be made by those who enter the country illegally or are met by border patrol agents or immigration officers at a port of entry. However, they must undergo a “credible fear” interview with an asylum officer to show they meet the refugee definition. During the interview, you can argue why you should be given asylum in the United States. An experienced asylum lawyer is crucial because they can help you prepare for the officer’s questions.
What is the Asylum Process?
Thousands of immigrants come to the U.S. each year looking for refuge. The legal process starts at an airport or a designated land border crossing when persons advise Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that they risk torture or other retaliatory actions if they are sent back to their home country. Those who satisfy specific requirements are granted a credible fear interview with an asylum officer. The interview aims to ascertain if the applicant legitimately fears being persecuted on one of the grounds for asylum in their native country. An individual who passes the interview is referred to immigration court in the defensive asylum process. Those admitted to the new accelerated asylum procedure who demonstrate credible fear are directed for an extra interview with an asylum officer, known as an “asylum merits interview.” Those who are denied asylum in removal proceedings must file an appeal.
What are the Asylum Requirements?
A person seeking asylum must show either that they have suffered persecution on one of the five legal grounds or have a well-founded fear of future persecution. Corroborating evidence is necessary to support this claim. It can include personal testimony, statements by witnesses, newspaper and other reports discussing your case or the human rights situation in your country, background country conditions materials, expert witness testimony, etc. Those who qualify for asylum are also protected by refugee law, which Congress codified in the Refugee Act 1980. These individuals are referred to as refugees, and they can stay in the U.S. while their asylum application is pending and are eligible for a backstop form of protection known as withholding of removal.
What are the Asylum Options?
Thousands of individuals at our borders and those already within the country request refuge each year. Those granted asylum can remain in the country indefinitely and progress toward citizenship. Individuals seeking asylum must pass a credible or reasonable fear interview with an asylum officer, where they explain their reasons for fleeing and why they believe that returning to their home country would put them in danger of persecution. They also submit corroborative evidence, such as medical certificates, police reports, school transcripts, statements from individuals who know the circumstances, background country conditions materials and expert testimony, when appropriate. Individuals in removal proceedings can also apply for asylum under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In a CAT case, the person must demonstrate a well-founded fear of torture, but the legal standard is higher than that for asylum or withholding removal.