If the foreigner is currently in the United States and have experienced or will experience persecution in their home country, they may apply for asylum. Asylum is a form of humanitarian relief that allows one to stay in the United States until it is safe to return home. Please be warned that an application with no real basis may lead to getting barred from getting a visa or green card permanently.
What are the requirements to get asylum in the U.S.?
A foreigner who wishes to seek asylum in the U.S. will need to prove that he or she has or will experience persecution in their home country. It can be in various severe forms such as discrimination, beatings, harassment, torture and unjust imprisonment. The persecution must either come from the home country’s government or outside forces that is beyond their control such as terrorist groups, guerillas, gangs, etc.).
In addition, the persecution must be based on one of five grounds, including either your:
- political opinion, or
- membership in a particular social group.
Persecution based on any other ground does not qualify for asylum. For instance, someone who’s scared to go back to their home country because an angry neighbor has threatened to hurt him or her does not qualify for asylum.
The Written Application for Asylum
First and foremost, it is important to take note that there is a deadline for applying for asylum. You must start your application within one year of entering the U.S. or before your visa expires (if you had one). If you entered the United States illegally, that is not a bar to applying for asylum.
If more than a year has already passed, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may make an exception for you and allow you to apply, but you would want to talk to an attorney about this. Speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Call 877-3758188 to inquire about your case.
Fill out USCIS Form I-589, which you can download on the USCIS website. There is no filing fee for this form. This form is only a small part of the written application process. The bigger part is submitting documents to prove who you are, how you were persecuted or why you might be persecuted in your home country. The more personal documents, the better. For example, an article written about you in a newspaper describing how you were beaten up by an opposing religion or medical records describing the extent of your injuries from torture.
Often times, it is hard to provide such convincing evidence. That’s why it’s important to gather evidence that would describe the general conditions in your home country. For example, reports by human rights organizations, affidavits by experts, and newspaper reports describing persecution faced by people who are in a similar situation to yours are all fine forms of documentation. Your testimony at your asylum interview (described below) will also be very important. Sometimes, a person’s entire case rests upon their ability to convincingly tell their story of persecution.
The Asylum Interview
A few weeks after you submit your written application, you will be asked to go to a local USCIS office for an interview. Non-english speakers will need to bring a translator with them.
The interviewer will ask questions pertaining to the information you provided on your application and your fear of persecution. It is important to memorize all the names, dates and other facts that are on your application. Inconsistencies between the information on your application and your answers may be taken as a sign that you are not telling the truth.
If you have questions regarding your qualifications as an asylee, do not hesitate to call our office at 877-3758188. You may speak directly with an experienced immigration attorney for free.