What are the Requirements for Seeking Asylum?

When an individual applies for asylum in the United States, it means that they are looking for protection from prosecution or harm in their home countries. Asylum is a legal status that the government can grant to these foreign nationals.

To receive asylum, applicants must prove that they are eligible. The requirements are specific, but when looked at from a broad perspective they are quite simple: asylum seekers need to demonstrate a well-founded fear that, unless they leave their home, they will suffer significant harassment, discrimination, or worse. The specifics are:

  • A well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
  • The persecution that the individual fears must be based on one of five specific grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
  • The perpetrator of the persecution must either by a group that the government is unable or unwilling to control, or the government itself and, if the perpetrator is the government, it must be demonstrated that the persecution is systemic rather than an isolated incident.

An asylum application is generally made when somebody is on American soil. There are famous stories of sports figures or ballet dancers declaring that they are seeking asylum while in the U.S. for a competition or performance. Today, asylum seekers are more commonly associated with those crossing into the country at the U.S. southern border. Both of these circumstances go through the same process of applying through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or offering it as a defense when faced with removal proceedings.

Though the main focus of an asylum application is on what the applicant is trying to escape, there are also legal requirements that must be met, including established deadlines. The applicant must also be able to show that there is no place other than the United States to which they can flee.

The asylum process has always been rigorous, but in recent years applicants are coming under greater scrutiny than others. The difference between being accepted and rejected often comes down to their account being consistent and credible, and they are often asked to provide evidence of what they faced in their home country. Official documentation or witness testimony can be very helpful in support of an application.

Finally, it is important to show that the individual will not present a threat to the U.S. population. Individuals who have a record of having committed serious crimes or who pose a security threat will not be accepted.

If you have specific questions about an asylum seeker or need assistance, our experienced immigration attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to set up a time for us to meet.