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Asylum Explained


Each year, people experience conditions and persecution which makes their home country unsafe. These people flee their home in search of safety and stability. To such people, the United States offers an immigration program called asylum.

What is Asylum?

Asylum is when an individual faces persecution in their own country, they may flee to another sovereign nation and request protection. In the United States, asylum is available to those who have suffered harm or fear they will suffer harm upon return to their home country as a political refugee.

Who is Eligible for Asylum Immigration?

Individuals who demonstrate they suffered harm or will suffer harm due to persecution in their home country are eligible for asylum immigration. In order to be accepted into the United States under asylum, the harm and persecution must be based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

How Does the Asylum Process Work?

Asylum begins when an immigrant leaves their country of origin to move to another country. Asylum-seekers must file all their documentation within one year of their arrival to the U.S. or of the expiration of their permitted stay in the United States. There are two options for asylum, the affirmative process, and the defensive process. Asylum seekers will need to submit documentation proving they are escaping persecution regardless of the asylum process they take. Based on the submitted evidence, USCIS will determine if the individual qualifies to remain in the United States under asylum.

What is Affirmative Asylum?

Individuals who are not in the process of being deported from the U.S. apply for affirmative asylum. Asylum seekers must submit evidence proving they meet the criteria of being a refugee. If your asylum process is not approved, you will receive a Notice to Appear in court for a hearing. In the hearing, an immigration judge from the Executive Office of Immigration Review will issue a decision that is independent of the USCIS decision.

What is Defensive Asylum?

Defensive asylum is applied to those who file for asylum after they are in the deportation process. Under this process, the asylum seeker will have the opportunity to appear before an immigration judge in the Department of Justice. Just like those following affirmative asylum system, someone in defensive asylum must provide evidence that they faced persecution. If the immigration judge feels there is substantial evidence, the judge can reverse the deportation orders.

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