Eligibility for refugee or asylum protection requires a credible fear of persecution because of the applicant’s political opinion, membership in a particular social group, race, religion, or nationality.
To Be Eligible for Refugee Status:
- A non-citizen must have a credible fear of serious harm in their own country, a fear that is recognized as having “special humanitarian concern” to the United States.
- The petitioner must be located and submit the petition from outside the United States.
- The petitioner must be admissible to the United States.
- The petitioner must not have already attained a safe refuge in another country.
- The petitioner must have never participated in persecution of anyone else on account of the other person's political opinion, membership in a particular social group, race, religion, or nationality.
To Be Eligible for Asylum Status:
- The petitioner meets the criteria for refugee status, except that the person is already in the United States when applying for legal protection.
- Applicants must file the petition for asylum within one year of entering the United States.
- The applicant may declare an intention to petition for asylum at a port of entry to the United States.
- The petitioner for asylum can be coming from any country.
- The petitioner need not have all documents in order. The law recognizes that some petitioners cannot complete the legal formalities expected of most U.S. entrants, because they are fleeing another government.
Other Eligible Individuals:
Some refugees and asylum seekers will have immediate family members who also need protection. These individuals may be listed on the application, or added before the final decision on the case. To be eligible, a family member must be the spouse or unmarried minor child abroad wishing to join a refugee or asylee already resettled in the United States.