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How can a person seek asylum in the U.S.?

Seeking asylum in the United States is a complex and challenging process for many individuals fleeing persecution or violence in their home countries.

There are three main ways to seek asylum in the US: the affirmative process, an asylum merits interview and the defensive process. The basic requirement for eligibility is to demonstrate that the individual has a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Beyond that, each option has its own requirements and procedures.

Affirmative process

The affirmative process is for individuals who are physically present in the US. Regardless of how they arrived, applicants must submit an application for asylum to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services within one year of their arrival in the U.S.

They must also go through an interview with an asylum officer to provide detailed information about their reasons for seeking asylum and any supporting documentation they may have. If the asylum officer determines that the applicant has a credible reason for asylum, he or she will refer the case to an immigration judge for further review.

Asylum merits interview

If individuals have a positive credible fear determination, they may seek asylum through an asylum merits interview. This process is similar to the affirmative process, but it is for individuals who are in expedited removal proceedings at the border.

The individual will have the interview with an immigration judge. The judge will review the applicant’s claim and any supporting evidence to determine if they qualify for asylum.

Defensive process

The defensive process is for individuals who are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Individuals must request asylum as a defense against removal from the U.S. They must demonstrate that they meet the eligibility requirements for asylum.

Which process an individual uses to seek asylum in the U.S. depends on their current status. However, all situations require meeting the basic requirement of showing a return to their home country would be dangerous.