Asylum is an immigration status that can be claimed in the United States by foreign nationals. Individuals seeking asylum are those who fear persecution in their country of origin and wish to escape persecution by remaining in the United States. However, seeking asylum is a complex process that often leads to countless questions. To help you, our team at Yekrangi & Associates has put together answers to the most common questions our clients have about asylum.
Who is eligible for asylum?
To be eligible for asylum, you must demonstrate that you are unable to return to your country of origin because you have a well-founded fear of either past or future persecution and that your persecution is on account for one of the following reasons:
- political beliefs
- sexual orientation
- nationality, or any other "group" of people sharing a common identity.
Individuals who fear torture, rape, imprisonment, death, marginalization--among many other situations--are considered acts of persecution if they are committed based on those five grounds.
How can I apply for asylum?
You can apply for asylum as long as you apply up to one year after you’ve entered the United States. If you are at the U.S. border, you can enter the country with a valid visa and wait to apply for asylum, or you can tell the border officials that you are seeking asylum to immediately submit your asylum petition process.
Can I still apply for asylum even if I am in the United States illegally?
Yes, you can apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status. However, you must apply for asylum no later than a year after being in the United States.
Can a minor apply for asylum?
Yes, a minor can apply for asylum, so long as they meet the qualifications. Whether a minor wants a separate case from their parents or has arrived in the United States without a parent or legal guardian, they can request asylum.
How can I request asylum if I don’t speak English?
If you don’t speak English, you must bring an interpreter. The interpreter must be fluent in both English and the language you speak, and must be over the age of 18. Unfortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not provide interpreters during the asylum interview. If you have an attorney, they may be able to be your interpreter.
Will I be required to undergo a background check?
Yes, every asylum applicant will be required to take a series of background and security checks. However, you may only be required to submit Form I-589 and have your fingerprints taken. Depending on the results of your background check, you may or may not be eligible for asylum.
Can I apply for asylum even if I was convicted of a crime?
Yes, you can still apply for asylum even if you were convicted of a crime. However, depending on the severity of the crime, your asylum application can get denied.
What benefits will I be entitled to as an asylee?
Asylees are eligible to apply for certain benefits, including the following:
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- Unrestricted Social Security card, cash, and medical assistance
- Employment assistance
- Refugee Travel Document
What will be my status after I am granted asylum?
If you are granted asylum, you will have an asylee status. You will receive an I-94 Arrival and Departure record documenting that you are able to remain indefinitely in the United States as an asylee.
Can my asylum status be terminated?
Yes. Your asylee status may be terminated if you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution. However, asylees can apply for lawful permanent resident status after being physically present in the United States for at least one year from the date that they were granted asylum. Becoming a permanent resident will allow you to remain in the United States.
Have more questions about asylum? Contact our Orange County asylum attorneys today at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation!