Political Asylum and Refugee Lawyers
Seeking Refugee Immigration Status vs. Political Asylum
People already located in the United States who are afraid of being persecuted by their home countries are eligible to apply for political asylum. Those who wish to come to the United States due to fear of persecution by their home countries, and apply while they are still outside the United States are considered eligible for refugee immigration status.
What U.S. Agency Decides Political Asylum and Refugee Issues?
Before September 2002, the agency that was charged with overseeing immigration issues was the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In September 2002, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, transferring the powers of the INS to the Department of Homeland Security. The immigration service functions of the INS are now placed under the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).
Seeking Political Asylum or Refugee Immigration Status in the United States
Political asylum and refugee immigration status are available to people who reside in the United States because they fear persecution or have experienced persecution in their homeland. Individuals seeking political asylum or refugee immigration status must fear that their home country may persecute them, or has persecuted them, because of:
- Membership in a certain social group.
Economic suffering is not included as a reason for which the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services may grant political asylum or refugee status in the United States.
Requirements for Seeking Political Asylum in the United States
If you seek political asylum because you are afraid of persecution by your home country, you must apply for political asylum within one year of entering the United States. One year after you are granted political asylum, you are given the opportunity to apply for a permanent visa - green card.
Are There Any Quotas Limiting Those Seeking Political Asylum or Refugee Status?
Every year, the President of the United States sets a quota, or limit, on the amount of people allowed to enter the United States under refugee status. If you are seeking political asylum, there is no quota or limit on the number of people allowed to gain asylum.
What if I Do Not Fit the Criteria for Political Asylum or Refugee Status?
If you wish to stay in the United States because you fear your home country, but do not fit into the criteria for political asylum or refugee status, there are a few other options available to you:
- Temporary Haven - If conditions in your home country are dangerous, you may be eligible for temporary haven in the United States. As the name suggests, temporary haven allows you only a temporary stay in the United States. Those with temporary haven in the United States do not receive a green card.
- Amnesty - If you have already been living in the United States illegally, you may be eligible for amnesty. The United States issues green cards for those granted amnesty. Congress decides every so often that specific groups of persons should be granted amnesty. Because only certain people are eligible for amnesty, you should consult with an immigration lawyer to see if there are any amnesty opportunities currently available.
Should I See an Immigration Attorney if I Seek Political Asylum or Refugee Status in the United States?
As with any immigration issue before the BCIS, procedural rules and regulations are very detailed and narrow. An immigration attorney can help you sift through these rules. An immigration lawyer can also help you determine if you are eligible for political asylum, refugee status or another status before you put your case before the BCIS.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 11-14-2011 04:14 PM PST