Asylum status is a type of immigration relief that may be available if you fear returning to your home country because you will be harmed. Unfortunately, this option is not available to everyone. If you currently reside in the United States and cannot return to your home country because it is unsafe, a knowledgeable asylum attorney can discuss whether you qualify for asylum status. 

Who Can Seek Asylum Status

Asylum allows a person who fears persecution in their home country to remain in the United States. To qualify, you must meet two basic criteria: 

  1. You have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country from the government or from organizations or persons that the government is unwilling or unable to control. 
  2. Your fear of persecution is due to your nationality, religion, race, political beliefs or allegiances, or membership in a particular social group. 

It is important to understand that persecution can include more than just physical violence or torture. It can also include threats of harm or death, economic deprivation, or other forms of oppression. 

When to Seek Asylum Status 

In general, you must apply for asylum within one year of the date you arrived in the United States. There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, if the situation has changed in your home country or there are extraordinary circumstances that prevented you from applying sooner, you should contact an experienced asylum lawyer to discuss whether you can apply now. 

Asylum and Employment Authorization

Once you have filed an asylum application, you are eligible to apply for employment authorization or a “work permit” after your application has been pending for 150 days. You may retain the legal ability to work until there is a final decision made on your case. 

Asylum is a Path to Permanent Residency

If you are granted asylum, you are eligible for permanent residence after one year. However, you must have been physically present in the United States during that time. You may not be eligible for permanent residency if you have criminal charges or have otherwise violated the law.

The Convention Against Torture 

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) is a United Nations treaty that protects people from being tortured in their home country by the government or government-affiliated entities. Under CAT, individuals can petition to remain in the United States if they have a well-founded fear that they will be tortured upon their return to their home country. Unlike asylum, however, individuals can seek protection at any time, regardless of their criminal history. As a result, CAT can be an avenue for those who are not eligible for asylum to remain in the United States. However, those who remain in the United States under CAT are not eligible to apply for asylum, and this path does not lead to permanent residency.

Talk to an Asylum Lawyer at Lotfi Legal Today

At Lotfi Legal, we know how much is riding on the outcome of your case, especially when you are in danger of harm if you cannot remain in the United States. If you are fearful of returning to your country, let us help you find a path to staying here. Call or email today to schedule a consultation about your options and how we can help.