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Can I seek asylum in the United States?

If you are in Kentucky and seeking protection from the United States due to persecution elsewhere, or fearing persecution, based on one or more categories of eligibility, you may be able to successfully apply for asylum. You may receive asylum if you are in danger of persecution based on your political opinion, race, nationality, social group membership or religion.

There is no application fee for filing for asylum. If you prevail, asylum can allow you to remain in the United States even if not otherwise eligible to remain.

There are two ways to apply. There is the affirmative process and there is the defensive process.

To apply via the affirmative asylum process, you must already be in the United States. It does not matter how you arrived here, nor does your current immigration status matter.

One year time limit

However, you must apply within a year of arriving in the United States unless your delay in filing is due to a change in your circumstances that now affects your eligibility, therefore causing you to now apply belatedly. You must also show that you nonetheless filed with reasonable timeliness considering those circumstances.

USCIS and immigration judge

You submit the appropriate form to the United States Customs and Immigration Services. If you do not receive approval by USCIS and you are not otherwise in legal status, you will receive a referral to an Immigration Judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The USCIS decision does not bind the judge, and the judge will review your asylum matter de novo. This means he reviews your matter independently and entirely with new eyes.

No deportation based on pending asylum case

You are free to remain in the United States, out of legal status even, while your asylum application is pending with USCIS. Additionally, even if USCIS finds you ineligible for asylum, you may remain while your hearing with the immigration judge is pending as well. Note, however, that you will likely not have authorization to work.

Defensive asylum process

A defensive asylum filing differs from an affirmative asylum filing in that you would be using that filing process as a defense against a current removal proceeding. In the affirmative application, you are not in the midst of pending removal in immigration court at all.

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