The plaque with a famous poem on the Statue of Liberty invites those longing for freedom to enter the United States. While immigration policies have changed, entering the United States remains a way for those facing persecution to seek safety and freedom.
Asylum seekers flee the country where they lived because of violence or persecution. They hope to start a new life in a new country, but they need the security of knowing the government won’t deport them. If you need asylum, there are certain things you need to know.
You have to face persecution to qualify
Asylum is only available to those who face unjust treatment. If you have faced persecution because of your religion, race, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, you may meet the criteria for asylum. Evidence of persecution or a hostile government regime will support your claims of needing asylum.
You can’t file for asylum until you enter the United States
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has rules for asylum seekers. In order to receive consideration, you will have to fill out and submit Form I-589. You cannot pre-emptively request asylum. Instead, you must file the necessary paperwork within one year of your entry into the United States.
Your filing can cover your immediate family
Most visas and immigration programs require separate forms for each applicant. When submitting Form I-589, one application can apply to an entire nuclear family of asylum seekers. You can list your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 on your application.
You can’t work until a year after filing asylum paperwork
The immigration process is slow, even for those who need asylum. It could be many months before your case moves forward. You can eventually apply to seek work as someone with a pending asylum application. You will have to wait 365 days from the date of filing Form I-589 to request authorization to work.
You have the right to file an appeal
If the courts do not immediately approve your asylum request, you have the right to appeal. Doing so quickly can help preserve your rights, including the right to work. Most asylum seekers need support to understand and assert their rights when seeking refuge in the United States.