Asylum is for individuals who are physically present in the United States and have a fear of
returning to their home country. An individual may apply for asylum affirmatively with USCIS or
with the Immigration Court if the individual is in removal proceedings. Asylum seekers must file
their applications within one year after entry into the United States, with some limited
exceptions being granted for extraordinary circumstances.

An asylum officer or an immigration judge may grant asylum if they find that the applicant has
suffered “past persecution” or has a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion,
nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion in their country of origin. Asylum
cases are highly complex. Therefore, depending the legal posture and specific facts in the
individual’s case, an asylum seeker may also have to prove that the government in their home
country is unwilling or unable to protect them from harm. Also, the asylum seeker may have to
prove that internally relocating in their home country is unreasonable under the circumstances
in their case.

Spouses and children (who are under the age of 21) of the foreign national granted asylum may
obtain derivative asylee status.

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