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“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” – U.S. National Anthem

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“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – President Jimmy Carter


“…with liberty and justice for all.”

An option available for obtaining a Green Card to the United States is asylum. One of the most commonly asked questions is, do I qualify for asylum? This is granted to people who stay in the United States because they have good reason not to return to their home country. Reasons for this include persecution and the fear of persecution based on nationality, religion, gender, or race. Many times, this persecution is caused by a political or social group in that country. A year after having this granted to you, you can often apply for permanent residency within the U.S.

So how do you know if you are eligible for this type of an exemption? The first step includes you asking the question at an airport, border crossing, seaport, or any other port-of-entry into the United States. If this is not possible then you can also file an application after coming into the United States. This application must be filled out within a year of coming to the U.S. There are a few exceptions to this rule and they are if the conditions inside of your country have drastically changed within the past year and they had to do with your eligibility for the clause, or if some extraordinary circumstance prevented you from being able to file within the first year.

If you suspect that you might be a good candidate for this exemption then you can apply. No matter if you are in the country illegally, you can still ask for this qualification under the definition of a refugee. In some circumstances, you may have been placed in deportation proceedings and need to apply and go before an immigration judge. If you are not under removal proceedings then you can still interview with an officer to be able to see if you are eligible. They can either grant it, deny it, or refer you to another immigration judge. The only down side to going to an officer while being in the country illegally is that if you are not eligible for the exemption then you will be put into removal proceedings.

The United States does not have limits set on the amount of people that can apply for this exemption to stay in the country. Asylum offers the opportunity for individuals to live their life free from persecution. If you live in fear of persecution in your home country then it might not hurt to go to an immigration attorney and ask if you can qualify for asylum to live in the United States.

About the Author: Attorney Rizvi is a Houston immigration lawyer. She provides legal assistance in a variety a fields, including immigration & nationality law, wills & estate planning and business transactions. For more information please visit