Seeking asylum in the United States can be a complex process, and it’s very important to know what steps to take to use this status. When done correctly, it can be a valuable tool to get much-needed protection from persecution and true threats to you and your family.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the things you need to know about how asylum works and why it is used.
Why is asylum used?
Generally, asylum is used to protect people from life-threatening threats on the basis of things like political opinion, race, nationality, religion or membership in a social group. If you fear for your life in your home country, you may enter the United States to prevent those who are against you from causing harm.
Is this similar to being a refugee?
It is similar, but there are key differences. Generally, refugees flee their home countries and then wait in refugee camps to be vetted and approved. After they are, they travel to the United States. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, enter the U.S. or arrive at the border first. Due to the urgency of their situation, they seek the status change after the fact, instead of in advance.
How long do you have to apply?
You cannot wait for too long once you arrive to declare that you’re seeking asylum, or you may be classified as an illegal immigrant. As of right now, you need to apply within 12 months.
What form do you use?
The good news is that applying for asylum is free. There is no charge. You do need to use the right form, however, which is the Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. You can use this for yourself, your spouse, and any unmarried children that you have with you, as long as they are under 21 years old.
Getting the process started
The above information can help you recognize how the asylum program may help you and why it may be right for you, but it is very important to take all of the proper legal steps. Make sure you know exactly how to get the process started to give yourself the best chance of approval.