The law provides for asylum and withholding of removal for an alien if the individual can prove he or she was persecuted or feared persecution in his or her home country based on his or her religion, political opinion, nationality, race or membership in a particular social group. An Individual who fears torture may also qualify for relief.
Every year, thousands of people come to the United States in need of protection because they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Those found eligible for asylum are permitted to remain in the United States.
Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified refugees who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year (with the exception of individuals whose claims are based solely on persecution for resistance to coercive population control measures).
Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, whether you are in the United States legally or illegally.
ONE YEAR RULE
You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, but you may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year. These may include certain changes in the conditions in your country, certain changes in your own circumstances, and certain other events. For a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may be considered changed or extraordinary circumstances, see 8 CFR § 208.4. You must apply for asylum within a reasonable time given those circumstances.