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Asylum

Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals in the United States who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who meet this definition of a refugee and who are already in the United States or who are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry may qualify for a grant of asylum and be permitted to remain in the United States as long as they are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum.  Individuals who are granted asylum are eligible to apply to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

A person can apply for asylum in one of two ways:

Affirmative Asylum: An I-589 application and supporting documentation is filed with USCIS. The applicant is then scheduled for an interview (usually within 45 days) on the merits of the asylum case at the closest USCIS Asylum Office. If the USCIS officer recommends the case for approval, asylum is granted. If the officer denies the case, the case is either referred to an Immigration Judge for removal proceedings, or closed if the applicant has other valid status in the U.S.

Defensive Asylum: If a person is caught at the port of entry, or referred by USCIS to an Immigration Judge, they are put in removal proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review. There, they have a final opportunity to plead asylum as a “defense” to removal from the United States.  The application is made before the Court, and the Immigration Judge makes the decision on whether the applicant warrants asylum.

If you are granted asylum by USCIS or an Immigration Judge, you are then allowed to remain in the U.S., and petition your spouse and children to join you.  After one year in the U.S. as an asylee, you become eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence.