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    Seeking Asylum in the United States

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    Those fearing for their lives in their home country may feel like they have nowhere else to go to escape danger. But for those who have family or other connections in the United States, there may be hope.

    According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), more than 46,500 individuals were granted asylum in 2019. That equates to about 4.6% of the more than one million people who immigrate to the U.S. each year.

    Refugee vs. Asylum Status

    Before applying for asylum status, it’s essential to understand the difference between refugee status and asylum status. Refugee status is for individuals located in a different country and who are trying to get into the U.S. for safety reasons. Asylum seekers are usually already in the U.S. via another means such as a visa.


    No matter which status you are applying for, you must be able to prove that you are afraid of persecution or are a victim of past persecution that brought danger to you.

    While specific types of persecution are not clearly defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), certain factors must be met, including a general fear or threat of life and freedom. This can include death threats, imprisonment, torture, being forced to participate in illegal activities, and more.

    The persecution must be or would be based upon one or more of these grounds:

    • Membership of a certain social group;
    • Nationality;
    • Political opinion;
    • Race; and,
    • Religion.

    One ground that is not listed but is sometimes also considered is gender—specifically, women who seek asylum due to cultural practices in their home country.

    Proving that your asylum status is tied to potential or past persecution of one of these grounds can be difficult, but it is the most crucial part of this application process. Additionally, you would also need to prove that relocating to another part of the country would not resolve the problem.

    When seeking asylum, you may not need to prove a direct threat of persecution has come upon you if it has come upon others with whom you’re associated. For example, if you are a member of an organization and military personnel had already killed or threatened to kill other members, you could show a reasonable plea for asylum as you were also associated with the attacked organization.

    Who is Not Eligible for Asylum?

    There are a few reasons why someone could be denied asylum status, including:

    Financial Hardship

    Having financial trouble is not accepted on its own as a reason to seek asylum. While this could be an additional factor in conjunction with one of the grounds listed above, those looking for asylum solely based upon financial hardship will be denied.

    Personal Vendetta

    If someone has a personal vendetta against you, that is also not usually enough of a reason to be granted asylum. However, the status could be granted if a military organization, a political group, or other organization with significant community ties is seeking persecution.

    How to Apply for Asylum

    To begin the asylum application process, individuals must complete Form I-589. The USCIS website outlines what instructions applicants must follow to have their application reviewed. Particularly, the organization states that if application spaces are left blank or incomplete, an application will not automatically be denied, but that every part of the application should be completed to the fullest extent possible.

    While you could fill out this application on your own, it’s best to have an experienced immigration attorney working with you. The Hollywood asylum attorneys at Magilligan Law have helped countless asylum seekers stay in the U.S. See how our team will work for you by contacting us for a free consultation. You can reach us online or by phone — 954-866-8058.

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