How to Get Asylum in the U.S.?


If you are currently in the United States and have experienced persecution in your home country, or have a well-founded fear of persecution if you return to your home country, you may want to apply for asylum. Asylum is a form of humanitarian relief that allows you to stay in the United States until it is safe for you to return to your home country. The difference between an Application for Asylum and a Refugee Application is that asylum is applied for in the United States while refugee status is applied for outside the country.

If your asylum request is granted, you are considered an Asylee and if you wish (and still qualify for asylum) you will be eligible to apply for U.S. lawful permanent resident status (a green card) one year or more after your asylum application is approved.  You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your own asylum application, so long as they are also in the United States.

Be aware of filing a frivolous asylum application, meaning one that has no real basis, has serious legal consequences, if you are caught, you will never be granted any other sort of U.S. visa or green card.

What Types of Persecution Qualify a Person for Asylum?

Persecution can include various severe form of discrimination, harassment, beatings, torture, unjust arrest or imprisonment, infliction of mental , emotional, or psychological harm, threats of serious harm, violations of  human rights, or  other type of harm. The persecution that you faced, or your well-founded fear of future persecution, must either come from your country’s government or other authorities or groups that the government is unable to control (such as vigilante squads, guerrilla groups, or ethnic groups).

In addition, the persecution must be based on at least one of the following five grounds:

  • religion
  • race
  • nationality
  • political opinion, or
  • membership in a particular social group.

Persecution based on any other ground does not qualify for asylum. For example, someone might fear returning to his or her home country because an angry neighbor or relative(s) has threatened to kill or similar situations, would not qualify a person for ayslum.

Law neither explicitly defines nor lists the types of harm that constitutes persecution, hence determination is very fact-dependent. For this reason, it is crucial in an asylum case to figure out whether the level of harm has risen to the level of persecution, and the connection between the persecution and one of the five categories above. You may consult Yazici Law for an in-depth analysis whether what you suffered or fear rise to the level of persecution. It is very important to have an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the complex process.

Application for Asylum

An individual is only eligible to apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, even if you entered the United States illegally, that is not a bar to applying for asylum.

If more than a year has already passed after entering the United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may make an exception for you and allow you to apply if there were extraordinary circumstances for the delay.  It is important that you contact Yazici Law to further discuss this in light of your specific facts.

After filing your application for asylum, along with supporting evidence, your application will be reviewed by an Asylum Officer. There is no filing fee for the asylum application, and the information you provide is confidential. It is especially vital to submit clear and convincing evidence particularly pertaining to your own life.

 The Asylum Interview

Some months even years after submitting the asylum application due to the slow moving process and heavy workload at the most asylum offices, you will be called in to a local USCIS office for an interview about your asylum application. USCIS does not provide any translators during the asylum interview, therefore if you do not speak English, you should bring a translator with you.

The asylum officer will ask you questions about the information on your application and your fear of persecution to test your truthfulness and claim of persecution.

Make sure to study your facts such as all names, dates, and facts stated on your application before you go in for this interview. Any inconsistencies between your written declaration and testimony at the interview may raise a red flag as a sign that you are not telling the truth.

The officer will not make a decision on your application that day, but you will have to come back on a future date to receive the decision in writing from the person at the front desk.

What Can You Do If Your Asylum Application Is Denied?

If you are not successful at your asylum interview and your application for asylum is denied, you will be placed (unless you’re still in valid visa status) in removal (deportation) proceedings in Immigration Court. If this happens it does not necessarily mean your case is over. At the immigration Court you will have the opportunity to present your entire case over again before an immigration judge. At the proceedings at the immigration court, you will be able to defend your case by adding any additional documents, present witnesses, and your own testimony (as well as undergo cross examination by the lawyer for the U.S. government).

The immigration judge will issue a decision in your case at the end of the hearing. If that decision is negative and immigration judge enters a Removal Order, you can appeal your case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), then to a federal circuit court, and even to the U.S. Supreme Court.

How I Help Clients with Asylum?

Gokhan Yazici at Yazici Law has extensive experience in complex asylum cases. We will diligently analyze your asylum case and advice on the best course of action for you and your family. We will represent and assist you in preparing a number of necessary convincing documents and preparing to testify for your interview to obtain a favorable asylum decision.

Please contact our office to schedule an in-office, telephone or Skype consultation to discuss your asylum matter.

Gokhan Yazici

Gokhan Yazici is an experienced attorney and counsellor practicing in the state of New York. He is specialized in U.S. Immigration Law, Corporate & Business Law, Business Transactions, Commercial Litigation, International Trade & U.S. Customs Law. Mr. Yazici holds an LL.B. degree from Istanbul University Law School and an LL.M. degree from Temple University James Beasley School of Law.