If a person enters the United States, he or she may seek asylum in the United States if the person can prove a well founded fear of persecution if they are to return to their home country. The well founded fear must be based on
- Group affiliation or
- Political opinion
In order to qualify to seek asylum, the person must apply within one year of their most recent arrival in the United States.
There are two ways to apply for asylum while in the United States. If an asylum seeker has been placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is a part of the Department of Justice, the individual may apply for asylum with the Immigration Judge. An asylum seeker in removal proceedings may have been referred to immigration court either upon applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry or at some time after the individual has entered the country.
If an asylum seeker is inside the United States and has not been placed in removal proceedings, he or she may file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, regardless of his or her legal status in the United States. However, if the asylum seeker is not in valid immigration status and USCIS does not grant the asylum application, USCIS will place the applicant in removal proceedings and the judge will consider the application anew. The immigration judge may also consider the applicant for relief that the asylum office has no jurisdiction to grant, such as withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture.
The United States government does not charge an application fee to seek asylum. The process involves filling out an application which describes in detail the feared persecution, providing as much corroborating evidence as possible, and then subsequently a hearing is scheduled before a United States asylum officer.
The application also simultaneously applies for withholding of removal. There are other considerations and requirements when applying so it best to seek legal counsel.