The United States proudly labels itself “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and this tagline is fairly well known throughout the world. Because of this statement and the numerous rights that American citizens are granted, many foreigners look to the United States as a safe harbor when they need it most. Many will apply for immigration while others will seek asylum on American soil. Knowing the difference and understanding the application process can save individuals from experiencing further difficulties and persecution abroad.
What Is Asylum?
Individuals seeking asylum are looking for protection from a threat of persecution or if they were persecuted in the past. This is typically in regards to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, and/or political opinion. These are often protected rights that we take for granted as Americans but that many foreigners are not given. Those seeking asylum are known as refugees or asylees. These individuals have been forced to flee their own county due to persecution, war, or violence.
Legal Steps for Seeking Asylum
There are two ways in which an individual can apply for asylum in the United States: the affirmative asylum process or the defensive asylum process. Those who choose to use the affirmative asylum process must be physically present in the United States and must do so within one year of arriving in the country. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will view their application and decide whether or not they will be granted asylum. Those who are denied and have an expired visa can defer to the defensive asylum process as their alternative....