What does asylum mean for those in the United States?

There are many different immigration programs that apply to people in different scenarios. Those with exceptional skills and advanced education may qualify for employment visas. Those with family members living in the United States may secure family-based immigration opportunities.

Sometimes, individuals qualify for entry or long-term residents in the United States despite not meeting the criteria for specific visa programs. Instead, they qualified based on humanitarian concerns. Refugee status allows those who have had to flee persecution, war or natural disasters a right to enter the country.

Asylum is another one of the immigration programs that extend protections to those vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse. What is asylum for those who hope to live in the United States?

Asylum is protection from persecution

Only those who have a credible reason to anticipate persecution in their country of origin typically qualify for asylum. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will grant asylum to those who have already endured persecution and those who credibly fear it.

Those fleeing war and political turmoil in the country where they are citizens may qualify for asylum if they worry about persecution based on their religion, race, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion.  For example, those who belong to a minority racing group or political party in a country currently told by an opposing party could be at risk of major hardships if forced to return.

Asylum protects those who are already in the United States at the time of their application. You typically have to secure the legal right to enter the United States and then you can apply for status as an asylee once you arrive.

How asylum works

Those granted asylum can potentially stay in the United States indefinitely and can bring their immediate family to the country. They may eventually qualify for green cards or even naturalized citizenship. They can work a job to support themselves during their temporary stay in the United States and may have other rights that differ from those of individuals in the country through employment or educational visas.

Understanding asylum rules in the United States can help those who think they may qualify for this protected status because of the current political situation in their country of origin.

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