If a person is able to prove he or she either feared persecution or was actually persecuted in his or her home country because of religion, nationality, race, political opinions or membership in a certain social group, the law will provide asylum and/or withholding of removal of that alien. Anyone fearing torture could also be offered relief.
In the United States each year, thousands hoping to immigrate are in need of being protected, perhaps because they are in fear of persecuted or have been persecuted due to their political opinion, their race, religion, nationality, or being a member of a particular social group. If someone is eligible for asylum based on this persecution, they are allowed to remain in the U.S.
Whereas the U.S. Refugee Program offers protection to refugees by resettling them in the United States, the U.S. Asylum Program offers protection for refugees who are already in the United States or are seeking entry at a port of entry if they meet qualifications. These refugees can apply for asylum in the U.S. no matter where their country of origin is. No quotas need to be met on the number of people who can be granted asylum yearly (except for those whose only claims are based on persecution for resisting measures of coercive population control).
Individuals can be granted asylum to those already physically in the United States or those who are arriving here. Applying for asylum in the United States involves asking for it at your port-of-entry such as an airport, seaport or when crossing a border. Or, an Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal can be filed at an appropriate Service Center up to one year after arriving in the U.S. Regardless of your immigration status, whether you’re in the country legally or illegally, you can apply for asylum.
It’s necessary to apply for asylum within a year of the last time you arrived in the United States, however it’s possible to apply for asylum beyond one year if circumstances have changed that could materially affect whether you are eligible for asylum or in extraordinary situations that caused you to fail to file within the one year period. Certain reasons could be changes in the conditions in your own country, changes in your own personal circumstances, or certain other qualified situations. To find a non-exhaustive list of such circumstances that are extraordinary, see 8 CFR § 208 4. In those circumstances, one must apply for asylum within a reasonable time.
Attorney Ayesha Chaudry is experienced in family immigration matters and has helped clients in New York City or throughout New York, in Hartford and Norwalk and throughout Connecticut.