People wanting to cross into the United States because they are unwilling to go back to their home country for specific reasons may be able to obtain asylum status. Obtaining asylum can take years, and applicants must meet certain requirements.
Depending on an individual’s situation, a person can seek asylum in a number of ways.
Reasons individuals seek asylum
The USA Today discusses that asylum seekers are those who meet the definition of refugees and seek protection from a port of entry or after having already entered the U.S. Common reasons they do not feel safe returning to their countries include violence or repercussions due to:
- Sexual orientation
- Religious beliefs
Some people also seek asylum for war conditions, extreme poverty and natural disasters.
Ways to obtain asylum
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states that there are three ways one can obtain asylum. One is the affirmative process. To apply, the individual needs to be currently in the United States, although it does not matter how the person entered the country. The application is Form I-589, and the applicant must fill it out within one year of arriving in the U.S.
If the USCIS denies an application, the applicant appears before an immigration judge for the removal process. If this occurs, the individual can request defensive asylum processing, in which the judge decides if the person is eligible for asylum.
If an individual has a credible fear of returning to his or her country, the third process for asylum is the Asylum Merits Interview. A USCIS officer initially conducts a screening interview, and if he or she determines there is a real risk of torture or persecution, the individual seeking asylum goes through a second interview for protection under the Convention Against Torture.