Those outside the US may apply for asylum status through the United Nations Commission for Refugees. That agency is charged with the responsibility to safeguard the rights of persons who have, for various of reasons, been forced to flee the country in which they were living, including all those who seek asylum as displaced and/or stateless people. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) exists to assist those seeking relief because they are fleeing persecution, an armed conflict, or similar troubles in his or her homeland.
The difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee depends upon your location. If you are already in the United States, you request asylum under 8 U.S.C. § 1158. Those outside the US typically seek refugee status through the UNHCR. That agency does not ordinarily permit an applicant to designate his or her particular destination, even when other conditions are met.
Although refugees and asylum seekers are not automatically granted refugee or asylum status, that status may be granted to a person regardless of where that person was born, or what the current immigration status of that person may be. Our firm can advise you on the best course of action in your case.
Meeting the Requirements of Asylum or Refugee Status
The requirements for asylum or refugee status are fairly strict. They include two major characteristics: first, your unwillingness to return home must be the result of your being persecuted in that country in the past and have a well-grounded fear that you will be persecuted in the future if you return; and second, the persecution is the result of at least one of the following reasons:
- Political opinion.
- Membership in a specific social group.
And prior cases reveal that persecution may take any number of forms, the more extreme being imprisonment and torture of political dissidents. Other activities may, however, quality a person for asylum under any one of many different factual situations.
Recent Changes in the Law for Refugees
During the Trump Administration, the number of refugees the United States was willing to accept was reduced to a record low of 15,000. However, that number is expected to rise to 125,000 this year. And while the “Wait in Mexico” policy, COVID-19 and other issues have slowed the granting of asylum in recent years, asylum is still available. In fact, you may be able to seek asylum even if you have already made it to the US border.
What Happens After Asylum or Refugee Status is Granted?
The status of asylum or refugee, once granted, continues indefinitely. In addition, you will be given permission to work. You will also be permitted to apply for a Green Card within a year after your entry into the country or the granting of your approval for asylum.
At our firm, we understand the complexities of the laws dealing with refugees, asylum-seekers, and other immigration issues. Call us at 602-900-8040 to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.