Every year, individuals seek protection in the U.S. due to the conditions of their country of citizenship. Asylum is a legal status provided by the U.S government to individuals who have left their country of citizenship, entered the U.S., and are unable or unwilling to return to their country of citizenship due to fear for their safety. However, in order to obtain asylum benefits, there are certain requirements, some of which are difficult to overcome.

In order to be eligible for asylum, you must be located in the U.S. (you can file for refugee status if you are outside of the U.S.) and file an application within one year of your arrival to the U.S. (though there are a few limited exceptions to this one-year rule). The spouse and children of the main applicant who are in the U.S. can be included in the petition. There is no fee for an asylum petition. Individuals who are granted asylum are allowed to live and work in the U.S. One year after asylum is granted, individuals may apply for a green card.

In order to qualify for asylum, you must prove that you have suffered persecution or fear that you will suffer persecution on account of your:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

It is crucial to show that the reason you suffered the persecution was based on one of the five categories listed above. Further, you must show that the persecution was or will be done either by the government of your country of citizenship or by people who the government cannot or will not control. Persecution can be harassment, punishment, injury, oppression, or other physical or psychological harm. However, not all types of harm or injury qualify as persecution. Many factors must be considered, such as duration of the harmful or injurious events, number of events, impact of the events, personal details about the victim such as age and physical condition, etc. There are many factors to consider and it is crucial to your case to prove the specific persecution you suffered qualifies under the asylum laws.

Moreover, persecution can be difficult to prove, especially since most people do not have objective documentation of the persecution. Types of documentation can include medical reports, newspaper articles, country reports, photographs/video, sworn statements, etc.

Due to the complexities of asylum law, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced attorney to help you file the strongest case possible.

Eren Yildrim – Associate Attorney