Recently, I've received a number of questions on how to apply for asylum in the United States. As always, I truly love receiving and answering your questions. Keep them coming! When it comes to political asylum, the topic can become a little confusing. Allow me to explain how it works.
Do I Qualify for Political Asylum?
An application for political asylum might seem like a good idea initially, but in many cases I've seen, most people do not typically qualify for political asylum.
I have had clients from Mexico, who have tried or have wanted to to apply for asylum, as well as clients from other countries trying to do the same-- including Honduras & Guatemala.
In these cases, what we normally see is that most people are afraid to return to their native country because of the violence. In the cases of Honduras & Guatemala, I have seen people who are genuinely afraid of being forced to work for the "gangs" as they are known in South America.
Unfortunately, even under these difficult circumstances, political asylum cannot be the answer.
The reason is that violence (like in the cases I just mentioned) are not problems linked to the individual's belonging to a specific group. These problems are due to the crime rate in those countries. When violence or fear arises from the crime within the country, you do not qualify for asylum.
The general rule is that to qualify for political asylum, you should have a political problem. This includes problems with the government, problems because of your political beliefs or another government related problem.
What are the Requirements on an Application for Political Asylum?
If you believe you qualify for political asylum and you feel you meet the requirements stated above, then you should understand the requirements for filing an application.
1. You should apply within your first year of arrival to the United States.
If you wait more than a year from arriving to the USA to file your application, then you lose your right to apply for political asylum. Still, there are some exceptions.
You can send an application past the year deadline, but you must be able to prove that the situation in your native country has changed and it is now impossible to return without the risk of harm or death.
2. You must prove that you belong to a group that is confronting violence or persecution because of race, religion or political affiliation.
The applicant must show that the reason for his or her persecution comes from one of the five protected areas. These areas are: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.
The applicant must also prove that the persecution he or she is confronting has been caused by the government in his/her native country or by a group that the government cannot or chooses not to control.
What's the Next Step to Apply for Political Asylum?
Immigration law & the laws concerning asylum can be complex and difficult to navigate. My reccomendation is that you seek a trusted attorney to file your application.