Political asylum is granted by the U.S. government to people who can prove that they are afraid to return to their home country because they have a “well-founded fear of persecution.”  People may also be granted political asylum if they left their home country because they were persecuted in the past. If someone wins asylum, they can then apply for a “Green Card” (permanent residence).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Process to Win Asylum?

To win asylum because of a fear of returning to their home country, the applicant must appear at an initial hearing before a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer, usually at a USCIS district office.  If the application for asylum is denied, the applicant may appeal to an immigration judge, and will have another opportunity to prove that the fear is “well-founded.”

  • The applicant must convince the asylum officer or immigration judge that they truly believe they are in danger
  • There must be good reasons for this belief
  • That someone else in their position would also be afraid.
  • There must generally be independent, verifiable documentary evidence that shows the fear of persecution in their home country or that they have been persecuted in the past.

What is the Definition of Persecution?

It can mean that the applicant has been, or may be, hurt, kidnapped, detained, jailed, tortured, threatened, killed, or beaten, or that freedom was or will be taken away in any other way.

The people who persecuted you or whom you’re afraid will persecute you if you return to your home country can be the government (army, police, soldiers, elected officials, death squads, or others), the guerrillas, another opposition group, the civil patrol, or any other group that the government cannot or will not control.  The people who persecuted you or whom you think will persecute you if you return to your home country must be persecuting you based on one of the following five reasons:

To prove your political asylum case, you will likely have to have to have a hearing in front of an immigration judge. The purpose of the hearing is to tell the immigration judge your story of why you fear returning to your home country. The immigration judge will decide if you qualify for political asylum and will decide in your favor if he feels you fear being persecuted in your home country and if he feels that your fear is real.  Your immigration lawyer, an interpreter (if you need one), the lawyer representing USCIS, and the immigration judge will all be at the hearing.


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