Asylum/Refugee

Certain foreign nationals may qualify for asylum/refugee depending on where they are at the time of their application. If an immigrant files while in the U.S. and granted asylum, he/she is called an asylee. If an immigrant files while outside the U.S., he/she is called a refugee.

Frequent Questions About Asylum

Q. Is there a deadline to apply for asylum?
A. To apply for asylum, an immigrant needs to apply within 1 year of his/her arrival to the U.S. If 1 year has gone by since arriving to the U.S., an immigrant cannot apply for asylum unless he/she can show some extraordinary circumstance, or change in circumstances in their home country.

Q. When do I get a green card if granted asylum?
A. If granted asylum, an immigrant may apply for a green card after 1 year.

Q. Can I apply for asylum even if I came to the U.S. illegally?
A. Yes. Irrespective of immigrant’s status, an immigrant can still apply for asylum.

Q. Can I apply for asylum even if I have a criminal record?
A. If an immigrant has committed a serious crime, it could bar him/her from obtaining an asylum status.

Q. Can I apply for asylum even if I have a criminal conviction outside the U.S.?
A. If an immigrant has committed a serious crime, even if outside the U.S., it could bar him/her from obtaining an asylum status.

Asylum

An immigrant who files for asylum while in the U.S. is an asylee. An immigrant can avoid removal by applying for asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution upon returning to their home country. The cause of this fear must be based on political opinion, religious belief, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. The criteria to establish a “well-founded fear” are difficult. Granting asylum is soley at the discretion of USDOJ. After one year as an asylee, an immigrant may be eligible to apply for a green card. The number of immigrants granted asylum is subject to quotas.

Refugee

An immigrant who files for asylum from outside the U.S. is a refugee. Usually, a refugee applies for asylum outside the U.S. in a refugee camp. A refugee can apply for asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country. The cause of this fear must be based on political opinion, religious belief, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. Usually, the process for refugees is quicker than asylees. This is because they do not have to prove their status as a refugee since it is already determined while outside the U.S.

Withholding of Removal

An immigrant who files for asylum from outside the U.S. is a refugee. Usually, a refugee applies for asylum outside the U.S. in a refugee camp. A refugee can apply for asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country. The cause of this fear must be based on political opinion, religious belief, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. Usually, the process for refugees is quicker than asylees. This is because they do not have to prove their status as a refugee since it is already determined while outside the U.S.

Convention Against Torture

An immigrant who files for asylum from outside the U.S. is a refugee. Usually, a refugee applies for asylum outside the U.S. in a refugee camp. A refugee can apply for asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country. The cause of this fear must be based on political opinion, religious belief, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. Usually, the process for refugees is quicker than asylees. This is because they do not have to prove their status as a refugee since it is already determined while outside the U.S.

Convention Against Torture

An immigrant who files for asylum from outside the U.S. is a refugee. Usually, a refugee applies for asylum outside the U.S. in a refugee camp. A refugee can apply for asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country. The cause of this fear must be based on political opinion, religious belief, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. Usually, the process for refugees is quicker than asylees. This is because they do not have to prove their status as a refugee since it is already determined while outside the U.S.