An asylum seeker is defined as a person who has left their home country as a political refugee and is seeking asylum in another. Asylum is the protection granted by a nation to the respective seeker. 

Refugees often leave their respective countries because of reasons ranging from persecution due to circumstances that can not be changed like their race and sexual orientation to an extremely tense political climate that results in a sense of urgency to relocate due to threats of violence. 

There are bars to asylum that can prevent a person from obtaining asylum according to “Human Rights First” including: 

  1. Persecuting others
  2. Prior conviction of certain crimes in the US
  3. Committing serious, nonpolitical crimes outside of the US
  4. Posing a threat to national security
  5. Being involved in any terrorist activity
  6. Having a safe third country that you are able to reside in
  7. Relocating to a new country outside your origin country
  8. Previously denying asylum without changed circumstances
  9. Filing for asylum one year after United States arrival

An attorney will be able to help you determine if you are eligible for refugee status. 

The Asylum Process

Once you have established that you qualify for asylum, you need to go to the asylum office for an interview. Interpreters are not provided, so you must have one if required. If they also agree that you qualify for asylum, you will need to go to immigration court. You must tell the judge should you need an interpreter, so the court can provide one as you can not use your own interpreter in immigration court. You must go to all hearings even if you need to request more time to find a lawyer.  

A refugee will not be able to bring family until they are approved for asylum. Once approved, the qualifying spouse and children are allowed to come once an I-730 petition is filed with the courts. 

You may qualify for federally funded benefits like food stamps and medicaid once granted asylum. Any state funded benefits received will vary based on the respective state. 

You are allowed to apply for a green card one year after receiving asylum. You can apply for citizenship 4 years after obtaining a green card.