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Asylum in the U.S. is available for those fleeing oppression

Throughout the history of the United States, people fleeing oppression and persecution in other lands have come here to start a new life in safety. Many apply for asylum under U.S. immigration law. If their application is approved, they can remain in the U.S.

A person may be eligible for asylum if the individual has suffered persecution, or have a well-founded fear of persecution, because of the person's religion, race, political views, nationality or membership in an oppressed social group. The applicant must file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum, within one year of arriving in the U.S.

After the application for asylum is filed the applicant must appear for an interview with an asylum officer at an office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The applicant has the right to have an attorney with them at the interview. If the applicant needs an interpreter, they must bring their own; the USCIS does not provide interpreters unless the applicant is hearing-impaired.

Once people are granted asylum they may petition to bring their family to join them. This is done by filing a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition within two years of asylum being granted. A successful asylum applicant can petition to bring the person's spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.

For many applicants, obtaining asylum in the U.S. is literally a matter of life and death. But the asylum laws in the U.S. are complicated and the legal standards are strictly applied. An experienced immigration attorney can be critical to a successful application.

Source: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, "Asylum," accessed April 3, 2016

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