The United States participates in granting Asylum protection. Asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
In 2016, the United States granted asylum status to over 260,000 people. That is more than twice the number granted by the next asylum granting country, which only granted 122,000 asylum approvals.
Sometimes, things happen in a foreign national's home country that forces them to flee the country. One of the more common events that forces an immigrant to seek asylum in the United States is if there is a regime change in the foreign national's home country.
With the regime change, the new regime brings with them policies that are anti-race, anti-religion, or anti-nationality that affect only a small group of the new regimes population, usually in an effort to make the group a scapegoat. This may cause the immigrant to flee his or her home country and seek asylum elsewhere for fear of facing persecution if he or she were to remain in their home country.
Sometimes, the regime change may happen while the foreign national is legally in the United States. The foreign national may be in the United States because of a work visa, tourist visa, or student visa for example. If the changes in his or her home country affect them in such a way that returning home would cause the foreign national to be in fear of their safety, the foreign national may apply for asylum.
It is also possible for a foreign national who is in the United States with an expired visa to apply for asylum. This means that even if the foreign national is not legally allowed to be in the United States, if he or she meets the requirement, then he or she may apply for asylum.
The responsibility to prove that there is an honest fear of persecution always falls on the asylum applicant. He or she must show that if asylum was not granted, the repercussions would be negative in such a way that the applicant will be in fear for his or her safety the whole time they are back in his or her home country.
Asylee applicants may include his or her spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old.
If you are not eligible for asylum, you might be eligible for withholding of removal, which prevents the U.S. government from sending you to your home country during the time that your life or freedom may be threatened. Unlike a request for asylum, you can ask for withholding of removal even if more than one year has passed since your last date of arrival to the United States. However, this form of relief is only available in immigration court and does not include family members.
Asylum status may be revoked due to bad behavior on the part of the asylee. This is why it is important for the asylee to follow all federal, state, and local laws and keep a “good moral character”.
The status may also be removed if conditions in the asylees home country change and there is no longer a fear of persecution in that country. In other words, conditions changed, and it is no longer dangerous for the asylee to return home.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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