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Can I Get Asylum if I'm Already in the United States?

Can I Get Asylum if I'm Already in the United States?

People immigrate to the United States for many reasons, including fear for their life or freedom if they remain in their native country. When a person requests permission to become a naturalized citizen or permanent resident in the United States because of a fear of persecution in their home country, it's known as asylum.

Applying for Asylum

To apply for asylum, a person must complete Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. Individuals may apply for asylum if:

  • They are already in the United States, and
  • They are a citizen of another country, and
  • Their application is made within one year of arriving in the United States.

People seeking asylum can include their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 on the application at any time before a final decision is made.

An immigration lawyer can help you understand the asylum process, work with you to complete and submit your application, and help you prepare for your initial interview. Applicants can expect to receive a decision 60 to 180 days after filing.

Applying for Asylum If You've Been in the U.S. More Than a Year

In certain instances, an individual may be able to apply for asylum if they've been in the United States for more than a year. According to U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services:

"You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, unless you can demonstrate that there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year. You must apply for asylum within a reasonable time given the circumstances. Changed or extraordinary circumstances may include certain changes in the conditions in your country, changes in your own circumstances, and other events."

Visit LawyerLocator to learn more about immigration law or to locate an immigration lawyer in your area.