Asylum may be granted to people who are already in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, and membership in a particular social group or political opinion. If you are granted asylum, you will be allowed to live and work in the United States. You will also be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum. You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your own asylum application if your spouse and children are in the United States. According to the Refugee Act, current immigration status, whether legal or not, is not relevant to an applicant’s asylum claim.
An alien may apply for asylum in 1 of 2 ways: with an Asylum officer or, if apprehended, with an Immigration Judge as part of a deportation or exclusion hearing. To be eligible for asylum in the United States you must ask for asylum at a port of entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file an application within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may ask later than 1 year if conditions in your country have changed or if your personal circumstances have changed. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, meaning that you may apply even if you are in the United States illegally. However, if an Asylum officer decides against granting you asylum and you are illegally in the USA you will be deported to your home country. If, on the other hand, you are legal and your case has been denied you’ll receive an advanced notice regarding their adverse decision and you will have the opportunity to respond to such notice before a final decision has been made. An interview with an Asylum officer is then scheduled within 60 days after the claim has been filed. Under immigration law an approved asylee must reside in the United States for one year following his or her approval to be eligible to apply for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status. One year of the asylee’s residence prior to adjustment is counted toward the naturalization residency requirement. The Immigration Act of 1990 increased the amount of asylum cases to 10,000 per year. Unfortunately, due to the current world affairs it seems that such limit is simply not enough and the need to increase this ceiling is ever increasing.