People from other countries come to the United States for many reasons. Some people come to attend university, take a job or get married. You may not have any of these reasons for coming to the U.S. Instead, you may be at risk for persecution in your country of origin. 

If returning to your home country would put you in danger, you may be able to apply for asylum. This would protect you and certain family members from deportation and allow you to remain in the United States. The following guide can help you determine whether you qualify. Keep in mind, however, that U.S. laws governing asylum are complex. 

How do you qualify for asylum?

Even if you cross into the United States without authorization, you can apply for asylum if you faced persecution in your native country on the basis of the following: 

  • Nationality 
  • Political opinion 
  • Religion 
  • Social group membership 
  • Race 

You can also apply for asylum at a port of entry before crossing into the United States. Otherwise, you cannot apply for asylum before reaching the U.S. 

How do you apply for asylum?

Within one year of your arrival, you must request and complete the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, i.e., Form I-589. If you have a spouse and/or children with you, you can include them in the same form. There is no application fee. 

What if the government turns down your application?

You do not need to leave the U.S. immediately if Citizenship and Immigration Services deny your application. Instead, a federal judge decides whether or not to grant asylum after reviewing your situation.