The United States primarily offers immigration opportunities to those with loved ones in the country or those who would benefit domestic businesses. People largely travel to the United States using employment, student or family visas. However, there are also immigration programs that provide support for those at risk in their country of origin. Asylum is one of several options that can help those who may not qualify for other immigration opportunities and who are unsafe in their homeland to lawfully live and work in the United States. Asylum can lead to a lengthy stay in the U.S., at least until the political environment improves in someone’s country of origin.
To qualify for asylum, there are multiple criteria, one of the first of which is that the person applying cannot be a United States citizen. These are the two other main requirements for those seeking asylum in the United States.
They must face persecution for protected characteristics
The point of asylum is for the United States government to intervene and protect those who would face unfair persecution in their country of origin. By allowing them to stay in the United States, the government protects asylees from violence and persecution in their countries of origin.
Not all forms of persecution necessarily qualify for asylum. Currently, the rules in the United States primarily focus on persecution based on someone’s religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. If there has been systemic discrimination against or persecution of people who share characteristics with an asylum applicant in their country of origin, they may meet the standard for asylum.
They must physically be in the country
Some people confuse refugee status with asylum. It is generally not possible to apply for asylum while in another country. An applicant usually submits paperwork after legally entering the United States.
It can be very difficult to seek asylum without support, especially if there is a language barrier. Those hoping to escape persecution by moving to the United States may require support from a legal professional throughout the process. Evaluating one’s circumstances to see if asylum is an option is a good first step for those hoping to escape persecution and political instability by moving to or remaining in the United States.