Obtaining political asylum in the US is not easy. It generally requires proof of the following:
1) that the applicant is likely to be persecuted (i.e. seriously harmed or killed) if forced to return home;
2) that the persecution would be on account of the applicant’s race, religion, national origin, ethnic background, political opinion or membership in a particular social group; and
3) that the persecution would be caused either by the government of the home country or by a group which the government is unable or unwilling to control.
- Economic hardship and/or general civil unrest in the home country is not a basis for obtaining political asylum status.
- An applicant will not be eligible for political asylum unless the application is made within one year of arriving in the US. There is an exception to this rule, but only if the fear of persecution is based on changed circumstances in the home country which occurred within the year before applying and which did not previously exist.
- An applicant will not be eligible to get employment authorization while waiting for a decision unless the application takes more than 180 days through no fault of the applicant. Most applications are decided in less than 180 days.
- The CIS refers applications which are not approved to an Immigration Judge for a removal hearing if the applicant is not in legal status. An application can then be renewed in front of the Immigration Judge. However, if it is not approved, it can result in removal or deportation from the US.
- Applicants whose cases are approved can apply for permanent resident status in the US one year after approval. However, because there is a quota on the number of asylees who can be granted permanent resident status in any given year, asylees who apply for permanent residence typically have to wait many years for their permanent resident cases to be approved.