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What do I need to know about asylum?

What is Asylum?

Asylum is the legal protection afforded by the United States government to a person who can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. There is no singular definition of persecution.  The Ninth Circuit has defined “persecution” as “infliction of suffering or harm upon those who differ . . . in a way regarded as offensive” and “oppression which is inflicted on groups or individuals because of a difference that the persecutor will not tolerate.”

Who Is Eligible to Apply for Asylum?

A. You may apply for asylum if you are at a port of entry or in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status and within one year of your arrival to the United States.You will not be eligible to apply for asylum if you Filed your application after being in the United States for more than one year.  However, you may qualify for an exception if you show changed circumstances to be eligible for an exception. 

What Happens if the Application is Denied?

If you affirmatively apply for asylum, and are out of status, your case will be referred to an immigration judge for a full hearing,  if your application is denied. You will then have an opportunity to present your case to the judge. If the judge denies your asylum application, you may appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals . You should also be aware that if the judge grants you asylum, the government trial attorney can also appeal that decision within thirty days.


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