There are countries in this world that suffer many atrocities. It is but natural for people in these places to leave their home countries. In many cases, these refugees choose to ask for asylum from the United States government.

Generally, those who seek asylum in the United States fear persecution in their countries of origin. They know that US immigration law offers a solution for their predicament. They can be granted either refugee status or asylum status. Each is considered a legal status, allowing those who are awarded one of the two to lawfully stay in the United States.

Asylum Status or Refugee Status? 

The difference between these two statuses lies in the location of the asylum applicant. Asylum seekers already physically present inside the United States border may ask for an asylum grant. Those who are still outside the border are considered refugees. Incidentally, border patrol agents assigned to the southern border deal with a considerable number of asylum seekers, many coming from Central America in caravans. The Mexican border is often the port of entry for Central Americans looking for asylum from persecution threats present in their native country.

Eligibility for Asylum 

What does an asylum seeker have to do to legally immigrate to the United States? The US asylum law states that to qualify for asylum procedure, you have to prove the following:

  • That you have been previously persecuted in your home country.
  • That your fear of persecution, if you go back, is valid.
  • That your past or future persecution is based on specific factors, particularly on account of your:
    • Ethnicity
    • Nationality
    • Race
    • Membership in a certain social group (such as being a woman in a culture that requires her genital mutilation or a gay person in a culture that prohibits homosexuality)
    • Political opinion (such as being an activist against a current dictatorship)

If you’re a refugee or an asylee, take note of the following rules:

  • Qualifying immigrants must file their application for asylum within one year of their latest entry into the country. Failing to follow the time limit without extraordinary circumstances typically results in denial of their application.
  • Those awarded asylum status are allowed to apply for a green card to become lawful permanent residents after a year of their grant of asylum.
  • To avail themselves of green cards, refugees must file their application for permanent residence within a year of coming to the US

Defining Persecution 

According to refugee law, persecution may involve the following:

  • General violence
  • Genocide
  • Harassment
  • Human rights denial
  • Imprisonment
  • Injury
  • Political powerlessness
  • Threats
  • Torture

Proving the past occurrence of persecution or its probable future occurrence could be difficult. The fear of future persecution should be based on a real threat and not just speculation. Evidence may include affidavits, medical records, news reports, organizational membership documentation, and personal statements. If you need help procuring proof, consult an immigration lawyer for guidance. The US Department of State releases regular reports on problematic human rights conditions in different countries.

Bars on Asylum

There are people who are barred from filing an asylum application in spite of strong evidence of their persecution. If you want to know if you’re one of those who may not request asylum, it’s best that you ask an American immigration attorney. Generally, the bar applies to the following:

  • Those who are known to have persecuted other people.
  • Those who are considered a threat to the security and safety of the US and its citizens.
  • Those who have already received asylum elsewhere.

Contact a Roanoke Virginia Immigration Attorney

Foreign nationals who have no proper documentation may consult immigration lawyers on how to get legal immigration status. Unfortunately, illegal immigration has unpleasant consequences. Fear of being caught by the Department of Homeland Security or other citizenship and immigration authorities as an undocumented alien illegally living in the US is very stressful. The best that you can do to avoid the threat of the removal process or deportation is to hire legal representation to help you navigate the asylum process and meet the requirements of the immigration system.

Immigrant rights are provided for in US immigration laws. There is certainly the option to claim asylum if you’re qualified. If your country of nationality is not a safe place for you, seek advice from an immigration attorney to see if you are eligible for asylum in the US. Call the law office of Jeffrey Van Doren to speak with an experienced asylum lawyer.