Asylum is a form of relief and protection granted by a country to an individual who has left their native country as a political refugee. In the United States, there are two ways an individual may seek asylum. An individual may seek asylum either through affirmative means, through USCIS or may seek asylum through defensive means, when in removal proceedings.


Asylum: The Affirmative Process (USCIS)

To pursue asylum affirmatively, an individual must be physically present in the United States. An individual may pursue asylum status regardless of how they arrived in the United States or regardless of their immigration status. However, the individual must apply for asylum within one year of the date of their last arrival in the United States, unless:

1)There are changed circumstances materially affecting their eligibility for asylum or there are extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing;

2) The individual filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.


Asylum: The Defensive Process (Immigration Court)

In the defensive process, an individual requests asylum as a defense or as a form of relief against removal from the U.S. For defensive processing, an individual must be in removal proceedings in immigration court with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
Defensive asylums are generally presented to the court in one of two ways:

1) USCIS refers the individual to an Immigration Judge after they have been determined to be ineligible for asylum at the end of the affirmative asylum process, or

2) The individual was placed in removal proceedings because they were: caught in the United States without papers (status), or the individual was attempting to enter the United States without adequate documentation, were placed in the expedited removal procedure, and were found to have a “credible fear of persecution” or torture by an Officer.

Last Updated on Sep192011