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Individuals fleeing persecution have the right to seek asylum. This most fundamental right is guaranteed by the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and implemented in the 1967 United Nations Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. The United States codified refugee protection and the procedures for asylum in the Refugee Act of 1980, made part of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA).

To qualify for asylum, the applicant must be physically present in the United States and demonstrate qualified under one of the five protected grounds. To qualify for asylum the applicant must establish past persecution or a “well-founded fear” of future persecution in his or her home country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Generally, an application for asylum must be filed within 1 year from entry into the United States unless there are exigent circumstances like changes in country conditions that did not exist at the time before the 1 year time frame ended.

ADC provides legal assistance in filing asylum applications. You can also find more information and download the I-589 form at U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

Delays in USCIS asylum application processing:  Please note that delays in asylum application processing are normal due to the increase in asylum applications creating a backlog in the U.S. system. According to an April 2016  Human Rights First Report, the number of backlogged cases at the U.S. Asylum Division has more than quadrupled since 2013. The number of pending asylum cases  went up from 32,560 in 2013 to  144,500 in March 2016. Average wait times for initial asylum interviews exceed two years.

Additional Resources

Human Rights First Report: Backlogs Delay Protection in the U.S. Asylum and Immigration Court Systems

ASYLUM 101  Power Point

Membership in Particular Social Group Power Point

ADC Hosts CLE Program for Attorneys: “Asylum in Underserved Immigrant Communities”

On Friday March 27, 2015 , The Network of Arab-American Lawyers of ADC (NAALA) presented, “Asylum in Underserved Communities,” an American Bar Association (ABA) approved CLE program that educated attorneys on the nuts and bolts of filing asylum claims and claims for temporary protected status. The CLE program was targeted towards attorneys who would like to learn how to file asylum claims and those attorneys who want to refresh their knowledge. The program was specifically geared toward filing asylum and TPS claims for persons from Arab countries. Panel topics included:

  • Temporary Protected Status
  • Asylum & the 5 Protected Grounds
  • Proving Membership in a Particular Social Group
  • Country conditions in high influx Asylum-Seeker Nations (Syria, Iraq, Palestine)

Click here to watch a video recording of the program.