How to Seek Asylum in the United States

When foreigners feel threatened in their own country, they may seek asylum here in the United States. According to Webster’s Dictionary, asylum refers to “a place of retreat and security”. Those who are persecuted because of race, religion, political beliefs or membership in a particular social class are eligible to apply. The persecution can come from the government or from a special-interest group that is acting outside the law if officials are “unable or unwilling” to control that group of people.

Steps to Take

Those who would like to seek asylum in the United States need to come here first in order to apply. It’s not necessary to enter by legal means in order to do so. Upon arrival, an individual has a twelve-month time period in which to apply for legal asylum, and filing such a petition can halt the removal process at least temporarily.

Individuals who were unable to bring their spouse or children can file a form I-730 along with their petition for asylum. This form is used to request permission for family members to be allowed entry into the United States. Children who are younger than 21 years of age and unmarried may be included on this petition.

Asylum Hearing

An asylum hearing is presided over by a federal judge. During this hearing, the judge will hear testimony concerning the petitioner’s fear of persecution; witnesses may also be called to testify on that individual’s behalf. If the petition is granted, the applicant will be granted permission to remain in the country. Should the petition be denied, an appeal may be filed so that the case can be heard by another federal judge.

Those who file false asylum petitions can be removed from the United States and permanently barred from entering it. Even if persecution can be proven, applicants may be denied the right to stay in the United States if they have a significant criminal history or otherwise pose a threat to national security.

Obtaining a Green Card

One year after being granted asylum, a petitioner is eligible to apply for permanent residency or “green card”. If family members were also granted asylum, each one will need to fill out a separate application.

The process behind filing for asylum or a green card can be complicated and is therefore best left to an experienced immigration attorney such as Mario Madrid. For a review of your asylum case, consult with Madrid Law at 713-877-9400.