Almost 54,000 people came to the United States as refugees in 2017, and an additional 27,000 received asylum. Over 2,500 Russians filed affirmative asylum cases in the same year. The Migration Policy Institute reported in 2018 that almost 2500 foreign-born Russians lived in Indiana, while close to 940 lived in Kentucky. 

Each year thousands of people enter the United States seeking asylum. Those granted asylum may apply to live in the United States permanently and may also petition to have their family join them. 

What is asylum? 

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals either already living in the United States or arriving at a port of entry. These people must meet the definition of a refugee. Someone may seek asylum if he or she feels fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, politics, nationality or social standing. 

Those wanting asylum may be an individual or family unit. A person under 18 years old may petition for asylum with or without parents or legal guardians. 

What is the filing process? 

There are two ways to file for asylum: affirmative or defensive. The defensive process happens when the individual is in removal proceedings in front of an immigration judge. The affirmative procedure takes place when a person submits an application and interviews with an asylum officer with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. 

Any person who applies through the affirmative process must take the following steps: 

  • File an application 
  • Get fingerprinted and have a background check 
  • Have an interview 

At the interview, the asylum officer may ask for several pieces of information, including: 

  • A form of identification 
  • Originals of birth or marriage certificates 
  • A copy of the application 
  • A certified translation of any document not in English 

The USCIS requires applicants to bring an interpreter if they do not speak English well enough for the interview. Any person seeking asylum may bring an attorney or representative to the interview or other immigration proceedings.