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What Is Asylum?

Asylum is available to foreign nationals who are unable to live in their nation of origin due to concerns about safety. Seeking asylum can be difficult, as it entails numerous steps, some of which are exceedingly complex. The American Council on Immigration provides the following insight for asylum seekers, many of whom are likely to be overwhelmed by the process.

Asylum seekers must meet the United Nations definition of refugee. This means that a person’s well-being is in jeopardy if they return to their home country, and that their safety cannot be guaranteed if they do so. This lack of safety often has to do with a legitimate fear of persecution, which can be based on many different factors (such as race, nationality, political beliefs, as well as other factors).

In order for an asylum seeker to be granted residence, he or she must establish refugee status. This can be an arduous process, and having the assistance of a lawyer is often highly beneficial. A person can apply for affirmative asylum or defensive asylum. Applications for affirmative asylum will only be considered if the person is not in the process of being deported. If so, he or she will need to apply for defensive asylum.

If asylum is granted, new residents will be privy to many benefits (including being able to secure employment, the ability to bring family members to the U.S., and being allowed to apply for financial assistance). After a year, those granted asylum will be allowed to apply for permanent residence. The next step in the process is to become naturalized, and this process can be initiated four years after a person has been granted permanent residence. 

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