Rise in Venezuelan asylum applications to the US

As Venezuela reels from economic and political unrest, the number of asylum applications filed by Venezuelans in the US has jumped by as much as 168 percent, compared to the same period in 2015. This is according to data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Pew Research Center.

Venezuela is one of the top countries of origin for applicants for asylum to the US. Up to 10,221 applications were filed between last October and June this year, which is a rise of 3810 from the same period in 2014 and 2015. Immigrants  need to have fled from their nation because of a reasonable threat of persecution over their nationality, politics, race, or religion, to be eligible for asylum.

Those who apply for asylum can remain in the US while their applications are considered, a process that can take many years. In fiscal 2016, so far, Venezuelans are the third highest applicants for asylum, following Mexico, with 10,749 applications, and China in first place with 11,826. Just 92 applications for asylum were received from Venezuelans in February 2014 but that figure had risen to 1370 in June 2016.

The US has also seen a dramatic rise in the number of Mexican asylum applications, with an increase from 2133 in the third quarter of fiscal 2015, to 4054 in the same quarter of 2016. Applications from Mexico have risen over the last ten years, partly because of drug-related violence.