Seeking Asylum in the United States
The Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporates elements of international law, provides protection for persons seeking protection from persecution. Generally, an applicant for asylum relief must meet the definition of a refugee. A refugee is defined as "any person outside his or her country of nationality, or in the case of a person having no nationality, his or her last habitual residence, who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion." INA §101(a)(42)(A), 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(42)(A). There is no right to asylum in the U.S. Although an applicant may satisfy the statutory requirements for asylum, the government may deny protection as a matter of discretion.
There are two ways to apply for asylum. If the asylum applicant is inside the United States and not subject to removal proceedings, the applicant may file an asylum application with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If the applicant is in removal proceedings, or the USCIS declines to adjudicate the application, the applicant may apply for asylum before an immigration judge. The applicant must apply for asylum within one year of entry, unless the applicant can show changed circumstances or exceptional circumstances.
An applicant for asylum is ineligible for asylum protection if:
- the applicant participated in persecution of others because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion;
- the applicant has been convicted of a particularly serious crime in the United States constituting a danger to the community;
- the applicant has committed a serious non-political crime outside the United States;
- the applicant is deemed a danger to the security of the United States;
- the applicant is not admissible based on terrorism-related grounds;
- the applicant has firmly resettled in another country prior to arrival; or
- the applicant has been convicted of an aggravated felony as defined by immigration law.
Applicants granted asylum may request derivative asylum status for their spouses and children. A person may apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States after one (1) year of being granted asylum status.
The asylum and refugee laws of the United States are complex and subject to change. It is advisable that the applicant contact our immigration lawyers and seek counsel to determine their facts, relevant issues and potential pitfalls.
Immigration law is often compared to tax law in its complexity. Do not struggle alone with complicated state and federal immigration laws and the varying immigration laws of other countries. We have helped thousands of individuals, families and businesses resolve their immigration law challenges. Contact us for a low-charge initial consultation to discuss how we can help you or your family members.
If you have any questions regarding immigration law, including questions relating to naturalization, deportation, permanent visas, working in the United States, traveling abroad or employer compliance, please contact our law firm to schedule an in-person, telephonic or video consultation regardless of your location within the United States or anywhere in the World.
We speak Spanish , Slovak, and Czech, accept credit cards, and provide initial consultations with an attorney for a low fee. To contact us, call 214-251-8011 (Dallas, TX), 817-332-1100 (Fort Worth, TX), 225-291-2155 (Baton Rouge, LA), or toll-free 1-888-562-0398 (nationwide).
* The information on this website should not be construed as legal advice. Use of information on this site does not form an attorney-client relationship. Fully licensed by the Texas Supreme Court.
** Louisiana Office - not licensed to practice law or represent clients in matters of State Law in Louisiana; but Authorized by Federal Law to advise and represent clients in Immigration Matters in Louisiana and throughout the United States. Practice is limited to Immigration Law.