Seeking Refuge – The Asylum Process Explained

Sign on the ground stating "seeking asylum is a human right" with white text over red paint. When Ellis Island officially opened as an immigration welcoming port on January 1, 1892, it served as a doorway of hope for many courageous immigrants. Today, though Ellis Island is closed for immigrant processing, it remains as a historical landmark. It is a memorial to the rich American heritage of diversity and hospitality. The United States continues to embrace its identity as a land of opportunity for those who come seeking a better life. We stand for a way out of impoverishment and place of refuge for those who seek asylum. That being said, the refugee application process can be complicated and overwhelming at times. People seeking protection in the United States do not have to face it alone. The following is a general overview of the application process.

Who is Eligible for Asylum?

An asylum seeker is someone who has left their native country as a political refugee, desiring the protection and support of a host country. These people typically flee their country due to war or persecution regarding their race, political opinion, religious affiliation, or social ties. Most are escaping impending death, fleeing from their home countries out of necessity.

How Does the Application Process Work?

Those seeking refugee status must physically be in the United States or at a U.S. port of entry in order to apply. The application is called Form I-589. Once someone has been granted refugee status, he or she is allowed to live and work in the United States. They are eligible to apply for legal permanent residence (a “green card”) after one year.

Important Things to Note

If you are seeking asylum, you need to apply within one year of arriving in the United States. If granted, you have the opportunity to petition for your family to come to the United States as well. You are able to include your spouse and/or your children on your initial application. However, children must be unmarried and under the age of 21 to qualify under your case.

The Role of an Immigration Attorney

Relocating to a new country is always challenging. It can be especially difficult when immigrants are seeking protection from human rights abuses and persecution abroad. A lawyer can help asylum seekers with paperwork, but an immigration attorney provides a level of support and guidance that is invaluable during such an important process. Cynthia R. Lopez is an experienced attorney who is well-versed in all branches of the immigration process. Her passion for justice and her knowledge concerning asylum immigration is well documented. If you have questions, concerns, or want to get started on the asylum process, contact our offices today.