Millions of people every year find themselves displaced due to one form of persecution or another. Groups of people have been subjected to terrible conditions for the entirety of history based upon their ethnicity, religion, beliefs or some other or much more arbitrary reason, but the fortunate thing is that there are countries that can provide much needed relief to these peoples. The United States is one of the foremost.
The United States is explicitly founded upon the belief that people need not be judged or persecuted because of their religion or what they happen to think. In this spirit, America takes in asylees and refugees from around the world.
Eligibility for asylum is dependent upon a few general conditions and must be met to even apply.
The USCIS provides a guide to affirmative asylum that gives seven steps for the application process. Below is a summary of this list.
Defensive asylum proceedings are definitely the less preferred of options, but you can still petition for consideration for refugee status with it.
The way it works is that you are taken in to custody and given a removal order. You can ask for asylum if being deported would pose a serious risk to you. Unlike affirmative asylum where you simply fill out and send in forms, defensive asylum proceedings take place in immigration court. It is highly recommended that you retain an attorney for the duration of the proceedings.
The best possible outcome is for you to receive a Grant of Asylum and a completed Form I-94 in the mail. If this is the case you are legally allowed to be in the United States as an asylee. With this grant you can apply for employment authorization, a Social Security card, Permanent Residency (which would allow you to live and work in America indefinitely), and other immigration benefits for you and your dependents.
A Referral to an Immigration Court is not a all-out denial of asylum, but rather you must present your case to an immigration judge as well because USCIS was not able to fully approve your application. This is generally the decision when you apply for asylum with illegal status.
If the USCIS has Recommended Approval for you, you can begin applying for employment authorization and when the USCIS has completed its security checks you will receive a Grant of Approval.
If the USCIS decides that you do not need asylum status they will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny which allows you 16 days to respond. Depending on whether or not the USCIS approves your response you may either receive a Grant of Asylum or Final Denial for which there is no appeal.
Some references that you may find useful in your efforts toward filing for Asylum in the United States.
General information from USCIS:
More about the affirmative asylum process:
The types of asylum decisions:
A summary of the customer satisfaction results for the asylum office:
A list of things that will bar an applicant from applying for asylum:
Form I-589 - The Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal:
Form I-765 - The Application for Employment Authorization:
Form I-730 -The Petition for a Refugee or Asylee Relative:
Form I-485 - The Application to Register Permanent Residency, also known as the Adjustment of Status Form:
Form I-131 - The Travel Document Application:
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