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Applying for asylum in the United States

The United States welcomes immigrants each year from all parts of the world. Some of them are seeking asylum, which means they have experienced persecution or are in fear of persecution in their country and want to stay in the United States. There are several steps they must follow.

Reasons for asylum

There are several reasons a person may seek asylum in the United States. These include being targeted based on their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or practices, or nationality. Also, if they are persecuted based on their political beliefs, criticism of their government or association with certain groups, they may seek asylum for those reasons.

A person applying for asylum must be able to specifically demonstrate their fear of persecution, which can include physical harm, discrimination and threats.

Process overview

The person requesting asylum must be physically present in the United States and must complete an application. The application usually must be filed within one year of the applicant’s arrival.

The applicant will also need to have their fingerprints and photos taken and attend an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will either grant the asylum, refer the case to immigration court or deny the application.

If the application is approved, the person seeking asylum can apply for a green card. If the case is referred to immigration court, they will attend a hearing with an immigration judge. If the application is denied, they may be able to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration appeals or in court.

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