Asylum means protection, and for people who are afraid for their lives to return to their country, we thought it would be helpful to understand the US asylum process. This is a basic look at the asylum process once you reach the border so you can have a better chance at having your case approved through the U.S. legal system.

Definition of Asylee

A foreign national who is in the United States or at the border can be considered for entry into America if they meet the U.S. definition of “refugee.” A refugee is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to fear of persecution or fear of future persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political affiliation or social affiliation with a particular group.

Arriving at the US Border

Whether someone arrives at a port of entry or at anywhere across a U.S. border, they can apply for asylum. In general, the U.S. allows foreign nationals up to one year to apply for asylum status. When you are met with U.S. Border Patrol or U.S. Customs and Immigration officials, a person should let the officer know that they are afraid of returning to their home country and that they wish to seek asylum in the U.S. An officer, at this point, is supposed to detain you and explain how to apply for asylum.

When a person is caught crossing at an illegal point along a U.S. border, they are still allowed to ask for asylum according to U.S. law. A smoother asylum process goes better when you can offer officials your personal identification such as a passport or birth certificate. Simply “saying” who and where you come from is not going to sit well with the U.S. legal system. A person seeking asylum needs as much proof as possible to prove they need a reason to be in the United States.

After Someone is Taken Into Custody

Once a border crossing happens, you will be interviewed by immigration officials. This is the time for you to explain why you’re afraid to return to your country of origin. The U.S. Immigration Official will then ask more detailed questions about why you are so fearful of returning to determine if there is a “credible fear.” If the immigration official thinks you may win a legal asylum case in the U.S. Immigration courts, they would then send your case to an immigration court for a judge to decide whether or not the individual is allowed to have asylum in the U.S.

If an immigration officer doesn’t feel you qualify for asylum, your case will also be referred to an immigration court where you will still have a chance to make a case for asylum.

If you’re seeking assistance to claim asylum in the U.S. and would like legal support to help you do so, contact Landerholm Immigration. We have a team of immigration attorneys and professionals who have handled diverse cases, and we can happily advise you in giving you the best chance at staying in the US legally.