Asylum and Refugee Claims

Asylum laws allow a person who flees from persecution in his native country to reside in the U.S.   A person is eligible for a discretionary grant of asylum if she qualifies as a refugee under the INA, is eligible for the favorable exercise of discretion, and is not otherwise barred from obtaining asylum.

To be eligible for a discretionary grant of asylum, an applicant must show that she is unable to or unwilling to return to her country of nationality because she has suffered past persecution or has a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  An applicant can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution if:  (1) she has a fear of persecution in her country; (2) there is a reasonable possibility of suffering such persecution; and (3) she is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of such fear.

The law provides that a person, who has been subjected to forced population control, such as sterilization or forced abortion, or persecution for failure to undergo such procedures, has been persecuted on the basis of her political opinion.  A person seeking asylum, with limited exceptions, must file an asylum application within one year from the date of arrival in the U.S.

Establishing a well-founded fear of persecution may be difficult for the applicant. Often, the applicant has left her country to flee from persecution, and has little or no hard evidence of persecution.  Sometimes her testimony may be the only evidence to support her claim.  To successfully substantiate a claim, her credibility may be critical, and the US CIS has established a comprehensive policy for examining credibility.  Generally, the applicant is given the benefit of the doubt, and absent evidence that what she is saying is false, it is considered as true.  The decision-maker may factor her demeanor and behavior into the credibility determination.

A person who has been granted asylum may file a petition for a spouse who was a spouse before the time that asylum was filed, and a child under 21 years old.  The petition must be filed within two years of the date of the asylum grant.  Once she has been granted asylum, she can apply for lawful permanent residence after having been present in the U.S. for one year from the date of receiving asylum.