Do you want to learn more about applying for asylum?

If you are considering applying for asylum, you need to make sure that you understand the asylum process and what it takes to qualify for asylum before you begin your asylum application.

Asylum is available to people within the United States who fear persecution in their home country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. To qualify, you must show either past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution. Approval of your application is discretionary, which means that there is no guarantee that your application will be approved even if you demonstrate that you meet the basic requirements.

If your asylum application is granted, you cannot be deported as long as your status is valid (but it is possible to lose your asylum status if you do certain things such as commit criminal acts or return to your home country). In addition, you can apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after one year as an asylee.

You may include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age on your asylum application. If your application is granted, your spouse and children will be granted what is called derivative asylee status. This means that they will also be able to stay in the United States and apply for green cards one year after being granted asylum.

There are two general ways to apply for asylum. First, you can file an affirmative asylum application with your local asylum office. If this application is denied, and you are not in a lawful immigration status, you may be referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings. The second method of applying for asylum is referred to as a defensive asylum application and involves requesting asylum after you are already in removal proceedings.

If you are detained while entering the United States and you express a fear of returning to your home country, you will be placed in a credible fear interview. If you are determined to have a credible fear of persecution, you will be able to move forward with requesting asylum.

Some of the key things to keep in mind when applying for asylum:

  • You must generally apply within one year of entering the United States. Exceptions to the one-year rule include changed circumstances in your home country and if extraordinary circumstances caused the delay in your application.
  • You cannot apply if you have previously applied for asylum and your application was denied.
  • You may need to demonstrate that it is not possible for you to relocate to another part of your home country where you would not be persecuted.

In addition, you are not eligible for asylum if:

  • You participated in the persecution of others.
  • You have been convicted of a particularly serious crime and constitute a danger to the community.
  • You have committed a serious non-political crime outside the United States.
  • You can reasonably be regarded as a security risk to the United States.
  • You are inadmissible on security grounds or are removable as a terrorist.
  • You have been firmly resettled in a third country before coming to the United States.

Do you need an asylum lawyer to apply for asylum?
You are not required to have an asylum lawyer represent you in your application for asylum and the government will not appoint a lawyer to represent you. An asylum lawyer, however, will be able to assist you in collecting the evidence and presenting your case to either the asylum officer or immigration judge reviewing your case. Many areas of asylum law are very technical and can be difficult to understand and address properly in your application without the assistance of an asylum lawyer.

Learn more about asylum

To help you better understand asylum, I've collected answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that I run into as an Idaho immigration lawyer:

Frequently Asked Questions About Asylum