Who Qualifies to Seek Asylum in the United States?

who qualifies for asylum in the united states

Individuals may seek asylum in the United States as a means of protection when facing persecution or the threat of violence in their home countries. Obtaining asylum can be complex and stressful, but it offers a chance at safety and a new life for those who qualify.

At the most basic level, to qualify for asylum in the United States, an individual must meet the definition of a refugee and be physically present in the U.S. or at a port of entry. The person must also demonstrate that they are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to the persecution they face.

Today, we explore the eligibility requirements for granting asylum in the United States in-depth, why immigration authorities deny asylum applications, and how our immigration lawyers can help overcome asylum-seeking roadblocks.

Asylum Eligibility in the United States

Obtaining asylum in the United States can be life-changing for individuals fleeing persecution. It allows them to legally reside in the country, work, and eventually apply for permanent residency (green card).

However, the US government does not grant this protection to everyone. Strict eligibility criteria determine who qualifies, and understanding these requirements is necessary for anyone considering applying for asylum.

Applying For Asylum In The US.

Foreign nationals can apply for asylum regardless of how they arrived in the US, but they must meet specific criteria to be considered eligible.

In general, the stipulations are that individuals seeking asylum must first be physically present in the country and must apply for asylum within one year of their most recent arrival.

Asylum applicants must also meet each of the following conditions:

  • Inside US or Port of Entry: Asylum seekers must be physically present within the United States or at an official port of entry, such as an airport or border crossing.
  • Past Persecution or Fear of Future Persecution: Applicants must provide evidence of fear of persecution or a credible fear of future persecution in their home country.
  • Persecution Source: The persecution must have originated from the government of the applicant’s home country or a group that the government is unable or unwilling to control.
  • Protected Grounds Standing: Persecution must be based on the applicant’s protected class or protected grounds, such as race, religion, or nationality, or due to the applicant’s membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
  • Terrorist Affiliation Exclusion: Applicants must not have assisted willingly, unwillingly, or in any way terrorist organizations or rebel groups.
  • Previous Firm Resettlement Exclusion: Asylum seekers must not have previously been resettled in another country or offered the opportunity to reside in another country permanently.

It’s important to note that the asylum application process is complex and can vary depending on individual circumstances. Immigration lawyers are here to help asylum seekers understand the journey ahead and tackle roadblocks that can result in denying an asylum application.

Common Grounds For Denying an Asylum Application

Asylum applicants face strict scrutiny of their personal backgrounds. Immigration authorities will automatically deny claims from individuals who persecuted others regardless of where the alleged event occurred.

Similarly, the presence of a criminal history can be an absolute bar to asylum, even when the offenses took place outside the United States. Asylum seekers should thus be aware of the various factors that can disqualify them from eligibility.

Bars to Applying for Asylum

  • Failing to meet the one-year deadline for filing the asylum application after arriving in the US, and failing to meet one of the exceptions.
  • Having a prior asylum claim denied by an immigration judge or appeals board.
  • Being eligible for removal to a designated safe third country under US agreements.

Bars from a Grant of Asylum

  • A criminal record involving serious offenses that threaten public safety.
  • Engaging in or assisting with the persecution of others due to race, religion, nationality, etc.
  • Committing severe non-political crimes outside the US.
  • Representing a danger to national security based on affiliations or actions.

Additionally, individuals will be barred from receiving asylum if they are inadmissible because they:

  • Have ties to terrorist activities, organizations, training, or incitement of violence.
  • Are a spouse or child of someone who engaged in terrorist-related activities recently.
  • Advocate or provide material support for terrorist causes or ideology.
  • Raise other legitimate national security concerns based on their background.

As you can see, becoming eligible for asylum hinges on meeting very stringent requirements – falling short in any area, whether due to prior criminal activity or a history of committing persecution, will almost certainly result in asylum officers rejecting the claim.

A knowledgeable immigration attorney can help tackle potential asylum bars and defend against complex ineligibility allegations.

Discretion in Evaluating Asylum Applications

While certain offenses may raise concerns about an applicant, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts have discretion in evaluating the totality of circumstances.

They consider factors such as the offense’s recency or seriousness and evidence of rehabilitation.

In some cases, the passage of time and an individual’s positive actions since the offense may outweigh negative findings. Applicants can demonstrate personal growth, remorse, and a commitment to living a law-abiding life to help offset concerns about past transgressions.

However, it’s important to note that the burden of proof lies with the applicant. Asylum seekers must provide compelling evidence to demonstrate that they are eligible despite any negative factors in their history.

Immigration authorities are not allowed to overlook bar conditions – California immigration attorneys can help applicants present a strong case for eligibility even when offenses exist in the record.

Filing Deadlines and Extraordinary Circumstances

Asylum applicants generally face a strict one-year filing deadline from their most recent arrival in the United States. Missing this deadline can be grounds for automatic denial of the asylum claim.

However, some exceptional circumstances may justify a late filing:

  • The applicant was a minor (under 18) at the time of arrival in the US.
  • Physical or mental disability prevented a timely filing within one year.
  • Significant changes led to a newfound fear of returning to their home country after the initial one-year period had elapsed.

Failure to cooperate with USCIS officials by missing appointments or not responding to requests related to the asylum case can also result in an outright denial. Immigration authorities meticulously examine filing deadlines and require compelling justification for late submissions.

An immigration attorney can help demonstrate extraordinary circumstances warranting an exception to the standard one-year filing requirement.

Approaching the Complex Asylum Process With Attorney Guidance

Given the complexities of asylum eligibility and potential adverse consequences, asylum-seeking individuals should consult with experienced immigration attorneys.

Immigration law firms, like the Law Office of Lina Baroudi in California, possess extensive knowledge of legal standards, adjudication trends, and the complexities of the asylum process.

An experienced immigration attorney provides invaluable guidance throughout the application process. They can help asylum seekers understand the specific requirements for their case, gather and present mitigating evidence, and advocate on their behalf before USCIS and immigration courts.

Immigration attorneys can also advise clients on strategies for addressing potential asylum bar issues, such as presenting evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating circumstances.

Additionally, immigration attorneys can represent clients in court, file necessary appeals, and litigate alternative legal options when authorities deny asylum.

Your Path to Safety and a New Life

Seeking asylum in the United States is a complex and challenging process, but it offers a chance at a new life for those who qualify. Understanding the eligibility requirements and asylum bars is crucial for anyone considering applying.

By consulting with experienced immigration attorneys, asylum seekers can increase their chances of success and protect their rights.

The Law Office of Lina Baroudi provides guidance on asylum eligibility. If you’re seeking asylum in the United States, don’t hesitate to contact our immigration law firm.

Our experienced California immigration attorneys provide compassionate and knowledgeable guidance throughout the asylum process. Schedule a consultation and learn more about your eligibility and options for obtaining asylum.

Author Bio

Lina Baroudi is the owner and managing attorney at the Law Office of Lina Baroudi. Lina is a dedicated immigration attorney with over ten years of experience in the field. As an immigrant herself, having moved to the United States from Syria at a young age, Ms. Baroudi understands the challenges and complexities that immigrants face. Her personal connection to immigrant rights fuels her passion and commitment to achieving success for her clients.

Throughout her career, Lina has been recognized for her excellence in immigration law. She was listed in the California 2015-2020 Rising Stars List by Super Lawyers, an honor given to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. Lina’s proficiency in the field is further evidenced by her role as a Law Clerk at the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District, where she gained invaluable experience and knowledge. She also received the prestigious Witkin Award for Academic Excellence in Immigration Law during her time at Golden Gate University School of Law.

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