All About Political Asylum and Refugee Status in America

You may be eligible for refugee status or asylum in the US if:

1) You have been in the US for one year or less. Even if you are illegally in the US, you can apply for political asylum. If you have remained illegally in the US for more than a year, however, your application may be complicated. You will have to prove that extenuating circumstances prevented you from applying within that year. You may wish to speak with a refugee association or an immigration attorney, as you will likely need help proving this.

2) You have experience actual persecution in your home country or have reasonable cause to fear persecution in your home country, based on your political beliefs, race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. Again, you will need to prove that the political climate in your home country is actively dangerous for you, and this can be challenging, as most countries do not provide amble evidence of wrong-doing. A good immigration attorney can help you prove your case. This is especially important if the political situation in your country has recently improved but still poses a threat to your safety. In this situation, you may have an even harder time proving that a threat to your safety exists. If the USCIS can show that conditions have improved a great deal in your home country, your application for political asylum may not be granted.

3) You have not taken part in the persecution of others. In cases of civil conflict, you cannot have taken part in the violence against others or have persecuted anyone else. The US does not permit criminals or war criminals into the country as refugees or political asylum seekers.

4) You have not “firmly resettled” in any country besides the US or your home country. This means you have not obtained a permanent residency anywhere outside the US or your home country.

Political asylum and refugee status is meant to help those who are fleeing persecution at home. However, applying for refugee status is often very challenging. Often, asylum seekers flee their own countries illegally and may be entering or living in the US illegally. As well, asylum seekers often do not have documentation proving their identities, which makes applications even more difficult. Proving prosecution, identities, and status can be difficult, which is why refugee organizations and immigration attorneys can be so helpful in assisting asylum seekers apply for political asylum.