Asylee or refugee status is a legal status given by the U.S. government to you if you apply for it and show likelihood that your life or freedom would be threatened in your home country “because of … race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
This means that you must show that you are being persecuted because of your membership or participation in one or more of these categories.
Aliens presently living in the United States who legitimately fear persecution in their home country may apply for asylum. The main difference between asylum and status as refugee is physical presence.
In fact while an alien can apply for refugee status while outside the United States, the same does not apply to applicant seeking to apply for asylum.
A person applying for asylum must already be in the United States or at least make an application at a point of entry. A person does not need to be in legal status to be approved for asylum, and can even be in deportation proceedings.
However, before asylum is given, an application must follow different requisites and meet eligibility guidelines.
In general, a person must apply for asylum within a year of arrival in the United States. Still, a person can be in the country longer if he or she can show that extraordinary circumstances related to the individual’s lack of filing within a year arose. A person may be able to apply even if a year has passed, if material circumstances that affect the person’s eligibility for asylum have changed. They can include changes in the individual’s own circumstances, his or her home country or other events.
Of course, if an individual who has previously applied for asylum and been denied by an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals, he or she is barred from applying for this status again, unless he or she can show changed circumstances.
Moreover, if the individual has dual citizenship and can move to another country that will be safe for him or her and the third country agrees to this arrangement, asylum will not be granted.
If an individual was stopped at the border he or she may have to attend a hearing in which they describe their circumstances. The immigration will then determine if the individual has a credible fear of returning to their home country. The judge will also look to humanitarian concerns, such as your age or poor health.
In order to apply for asylum an individual may file Form I-589,if is an available option. Within your application, you must submit an affidavit in which you describe the facts involved in your case. Furthermore, you may need to state evidence that helps substantiate your claim, such as membership cards or documents that show that you are part of a particular group that is being persecuted, medical records that show that you were harmed or tortured and newspaper articles.
Once you submit your application for asylum, you must attend an asylum interview where you will need to discuss information in your application, affidavit and background.