About Asylum

Asylum protects people who are afraid to go back to their home country because they were harmed or threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a group. If you left your home country to escape this kind of harm, and if the harm or threats came from your government, military, or other group, and the government did not keep you safe, you may qualify for asylum.

Examples of people who can apply for asylum if they are harmed or threatened include:

  • A reformer or activist
  • A woman who is against genital cutting
  • A family member of an elected or political leader
  • A member of a religious minority
  • A woman who is the victim of domestic violence in a country that does not protect women
  • A member of a clan or race targeted by another clan or race
  • A person who is against forced sterilization
  • A person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender

Asylum applicants can apply for their spouses and unmarried children under 21. After 1 year of asylum, they can apply for a green card.

Other rules about asylum

Each asylum case is different. It can be hard to prove when it is safe or not to live in a home country or a different part of a home country. And if an applicant waits a year or more, it is harder to qualify. It's important to talk to a Legal Advocate to see if you qualify for asylum. If not, you may qualify for another protection, like withholding or the Convention Against Torture.

Eligibility Requirements

You may qualify for asylum if:

  • You were harmed in the past, or are afraid you will be harmed in the future because of your race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a group.
  • Your government caused the problem or will not protect you.
  • You have no other safe place to live.
  • You have not committed a serious crime or harmed someone else.

Note: It is harder to qualify for asylum after you have lived in the U.S. for more than one year.

Application Form

The asylum application form is free, and linked below. Tips for filling out the forms:

  • Check the rules and risks, to decide if you should apply.
  • Understand how to explain your case to show how you qualify. 
  • Only sign a form if you agree with everything written on it. The USCIS (government agency) and Immigration Courts deny cases that have wrong information or lies. Bad applications disqualify you from other immigration benefits too. 
  • Get legal help if you don't understand the rules and forms: www.immigrationlawhelp.org
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Last Reviewed: September 6, 2023