If you have been harmed in your country or your think you would be harmed in your country, you may be able to apply for asylum in the United States. To be eligible for asylum, you will have to establish that you were or would be harmed either by your country’s government or a group that your government cannot control. You have to establish that you were or would be harmed because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group.
Once you are granted asylum status, you are allowed to live and work in the United States and are eligible for federal benefits. One year after you get asylum, you may apply for permanent residence (a green card) and will be on the path to citizenship. Once you are granted asylum status, you can also file for your spouse and children to join you in the United States if they are still back home or elsewhere.
There are two ways to apply for asylum. The first way is to apply with what is called an affirmative application to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). You may do this as long as you are not in removal proceedings (in court where the government is trying to deport or remove you from the US). The asylum application is filed with DHS and you will have an interview in Denver with the Houston Asylum Office. The second way to apply is in Immigration Court, which can be done if you are in removal proceedings, or if your first application through DHS is not granted. If your asylum case is not granted, and you are not in the US legally, your case will be referred to an Immigration Judge where you will then have the opportunity to present your case in front of the Judge who will decide your case.
After you have filed your application you can obtain work permission if your case has not been decided within 180 days.
YOU HAVE TO APPLY FOR ASYLUM WITHIN ONE YEAR OF COMING TO THE UNITED STATES. Please come see us before that deadline. IF you have missed that deadline you may still be able to file for asylum if we can prove that there were certain reasons why you did not apply. Also, if you have missed the one year deadline, you may still be able to apply for two other forms of relief: withholding of removal and relief under the Convention against Torture.