Applying for Asylum from the U.S. Government
A person may seek permanent residence in the U.S. on the grounds that he or she faces persecution in his or her homeland. If the person is already in the United States, the person requests “asylum” status; if they are outside the U.S., they request “refugee” status.
In order to obtain status as a refugee, the person must prove that he or she has a “well-founded fear of persecution” on the basis of at least one of the following internationally recognized grounds: race; religion; membership in a social group; political opinion; or national origin. Refugees generally apply for admission to the United States in refugee camps or at designated processing sites outside their home countries. In some instances, refugees may apply for protection from within their home countries. If accepted as a refugee, the person is sent to the U.S. and receives assistance through the federal government.
A person who is already in the United States and fears persecution if sent back to his or her home country may apply for asylum in the U.S. by filing an application with the Immigration & Naturalization Service. Like a refugee, an asylum applicant must prove that he or she has a “well-founded” fear of persecution based on the same grounds, that is: race; religion; membership in a social group; political opinion; or national origin. In most cases, an individual must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S.