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An individual who qualifies as a “refugee” may be granted asylum.
Who is a refugee?
A person who: “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence…., is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
Well-founded fear. There must be a reasonable possibility of persecution. The test consists of two parts: (1) Objective. The applicant must show that the fear is objectively reasonable, i.e. there is at least some possibility that the applicant will be persecuted if he/she returns to the country of origin. (2) Subjective. The applicant must show that his/her fear is genuine, i.e. she is a target of persecution.
Persecution. Definition: There is no universally accepted definition of “persecution”, but Board of Immigration Appeals defines persecution as “infliction of harm or suffering by a government or persons a government is unwilling or unable to control, to overcome a characteristic of the victim. Examples: Genocide; Slavery; Torture; Cruel or degrading, inhuman treatment; Threats of life; Arbitrary arrest or detention; Inability to earn a livelihood; Inability to travel safely within a country; Arbitrary interference with a person’s privacy; Serious restrictions on access to normally available education; Passport denial; Constant surveillance; Pressure to become an informed; Confiscation of property.
* Past persecution: Past persecution provides presumption of well-founded fear. To show past persecution the applicant must prove that an incident: (1) Raises to the level of persecution; (2) Is on account of one of the five enumerated grounds (race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion); (3) Is committed by the government or forces the government is unable or unwilling to control.
* Future persecution: Absence of past persecution is not a bar to asylum. The applicant may also qualify for asylum by showing a reasonable possibility of future persecution only.
If you have applied for asylum, you may be able to obtain employment authorization and work in the United States. However, you can only apply for employment authorization 150 days after you submitted your asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview or hearing), provided that no decision has been made on your application during that time. (For more information, please visit the Asylum Clock page.) If you are granted asylum, you may work immediately.
One year after the grant of asylum, you can apply for green-card by filing a petition to adjust your status to permanent resident of the United States. If your spouse and/or children have been granted derivative asylum based on your petition, they will have to submit their own applications to adjust status and register permanent residence (I-485).
A green-card will make you eligible for all immigration benefits available to permanent residents of the United States, such as the ability to work legally, to apply for U.S. citizenship after you have held your green-card for five years, and to file immigrant visa petitions for your relatives abroad.