Asylum & Refugee
A refugee is a person who is outside of his or her country and is unable or unwilling to return to because of persecution or a “well-founded fear of persecution of account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”
An asylee is a person who is a refugee and is either physically present in the United States or is at a land border or port of entry of the U.S. at the time he or she seeks refuge.
Persecution is defined as “a threat to the life or freedom of, or the infliction of suffering or harm upon, those who differ in a way regarded as offensive.”
How to apply for asylum?
A person may request asylum at a port of entry (airport, seaport, or border entry point), the person seeking asylum status can file form I-589 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The asylum applicant may ask to have included in the Asylum decision the spouse and any unmarried children who are under the age of 21 if they are in the U.S. at the time. If the asylum application is granted, the spouse and unmarried children will also be granted asylum status.
The One-Year Bar
An asylum applicant must file the asylum application within one year from his or her last arrival in the U.S. or April 1, 1997, whichever is later, unless the asylum applicant can demonstrate either the existence of changed circumstances which materially affect the eligibility for Asylum, or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing.
Benefits of the Asylee Status:
A granted asylum status has the following benefits:
• Legally stay in the United States;
• Apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
• Apply for Social Security Number (SSN);
• Apply for permanent residence in the U.S. one year after the date of asylum status is granted. A refugee who admitted into the U.S. can apply adjustment of status to permanent residence one year after continuous physical presence in the U.S.
• Apply immigration benefits for spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old.