Seeking asylum is a crucial option for individuals fleeing persecution, violence, or fear of harm in their home countries. Asylum offers protection and a chance to rebuild a safe and secure life in a new country. However, qualifying for asylum can be a complex process with specific criteria that must be met. In this blog post, we will delve into the essential requirements for asylum seekers and explore the steps involved in the application process.
What is Asylum?
Asylum is a form of protection granted to foreign nationals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol established the legal framework for granting asylum and protection to those in need.
Qualifying for Asylum:
- Fear of Persecution: To be eligible for asylum, an individual must have a genuine fear of persecution in their home country. Persecution refers to serious harm or mistreatment inflicted upon someone based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. It is essential for the fear to be well-founded, meaning that there must be a real and credible threat to the individual’s safety and well-being.
- Protected Grounds: Asylum seekers must establish that the persecution they fear is motivated by one of the protected grounds recognized under international refugee law. These protected grounds include:
- Race: Discrimination or violence based on race, ethnicity, or skin color.
- Religion: Persecution targeting an individual’s religious beliefs or practices.
- Nationality: Harm inflicted due to one’s nationality or country of origin.
- Political Opinion: Fear of persecution for holding certain political beliefs or affiliations.
- Membership in a Particular Social Group: Individuals facing persecution because of their gender, sexual orientation, or other distinct social characteristics may qualify under this category.
- Non-Availability of State Protection: Asylum seekers need to demonstrate that their home country’s government is unable or unwilling to protect them from the harm they fear. This can be challenging to establish, as it requires providing evidence of the government’s involvement in the persecution or its failure to address human rights violations.
- Past Persecution or Future Threat: Asylum applicants can qualify based on past persecution they have suffered or a well-founded fear of future persecution. It is crucial to provide credible evidence of past incidents or a detailed account of the potential harm they may face if they were to return to their home country.
- Exceptional Circumstances and Changed Circumstances: In certain situations, an applicant may be exempt from the one-year filing deadline for asylum if they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances that prevented them from applying on time. Additionally, if there is a material change in the applicant’s circumstances or country conditions after their arrival in the United States, they may still be eligible for asylum even after the one-year deadline.
- Credibility and Consistency: Asylum applicants must be credible and consistent in presenting their claims during the asylum interview. Any inconsistencies or lack of credibility in their testimony could jeopardize their chances of obtaining asylum.
The Asylum Application Process:
- Filing the Application: To apply for asylum, the applicant must submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to the USCIS. The application should be filed within one year of the individual’s arrival in the United States, unless they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances or a material change in circumstances that affected their eligibility.
- Interview and Screening: After filing the application, the asylum seeker will undergo an interview with an asylum officer or immigration judge. During the interview, the applicant will present evidence and provide a detailed account of the persecution they fear.
- Supporting Evidence: Asylum applicants should gather evidence, such as affidavits, documents, country condition reports, and expert testimonies, to support their claims of persecution and the credibility of their fear.
- Decision and Appeals: Based on the interview and evidence provided, USCIS or the immigration judge will render a decision on the asylum application. If the application is denied, the applicant may have the right to appeal the decision before an immigration court.
The CBP One App
The CBP One App is a mobile application introduced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to improve the processing of travelers at U.S. ports of entry. For asylum seekers, the app offers a convenient way to submit necessary information and declarations electronically before arriving at the border. By using the app, asylum seekers can save time and expedite their entry process, providing essential information in advance and minimizing wait times at the port of entry. However, it is essential to remember that the app simplifies entry but does not replace the actual asylum application process, which still requires following established procedures for seeking asylum in the United States. Overall, the CBP One App streamlines the entry process for eligible asylum seekers, making it more efficient and user-friendly. Refer to our Instagram post for a guide to reporting your arrival in the United States. You can download the app here: https://www.cbp.gov/about/mobile-apps-directory/cbpone.
Seeking asylum is a complex and challenging process that requires a well-founded fear of persecution on protected grounds. Understanding the criteria and following the proper procedures are vital for a successful asylum application. For those facing persecution in their home country, asylum offers hope for safety, freedom, and a new beginning in a country that upholds human rights and protection for all individuals. If you believe you meet the criteria for asylum, consult with an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the process and ensure the best chance of success in your application.