What is LGBT Asylum?
Asylum is an offer of protection provided by a nation to a person who has left their native country out of fear for their identity. In particular, this offer extends specific human rights not already available in a person's home country.
In the United States, an asylum seeker is either persecuted or fears persecution for their identity, whether due to race, religion, nationality, political affiliation or identity with a particular social group, such as the LGBT community.
LGBT Asylum VS LGBT Refugee
Often confused with the term refugee, a refugee is a person who files for asylum while they are still abroad while an asylum seeker files their claim within the United States.
To qualify for asylum, you must be in the United States and file your claim within one year of arriving. In conjunction with your asylum application, you can also apply for a work permit (EAD) using Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal.
In conjunction with your asylum application, you can also apply for a work permit (EAD) using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. As of 2022, under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you must wait to apply for a work permit for a total of 150 days since your asylum application has been filed. The time to wait for a work permit changes with each presidential administration.
LGBT Green Card Filing
Seeking asylum in the United States can be an overwhelming process for many. However, once granted asylum, you can file for a Green Card as an asylee and be granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) status after one year.
Check out our post about who is eligible for an asylum green card if you have more questions about the process.
LGBT Asylum Benefits
There is a full spectrum of asylum benefits that come along with being granted asylum in the United States. These benefits can range from financial assistance to healthcare, resettlement and more.
More specifically, if you are a low-income individual seeking financial assistance, you can apply to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and receive monthly payments to help pay for rent, groceries and other necessary living expenses. Another great resource is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which provides financial assistance, childcare services, and employment preparation and recommendations so that an individual will have all the means necessary to transition from asylum seeker to asylee.
Visiting a local Refugee Resettlement Agency is another beneficial resource for asylees. These agencies can help you obtain government documents, healthcare, counseling or even English as a second language (ESL) courses.
In addition to government programs, once you are granted asylum, you can obtain other legal documents that would benefit your residence in the United States, such as a driver's license or social security card. You can visit Shoreline Immigration to find more information and other helpful resources regarding the full spectrum of benefits.
Special Groups: LGBT Asylum
Likewise, those who fall under the special groups category may experience unique struggles with obtaining asylum. Discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals can occur publicly and privately, as domestic violence, rape, and murder are prevalent in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
The United States began granting asylum to the LGBT community in 1994 as a result of the Matter of Toboso-Alfonso. This case concluded that under the terms of membership of a particular social group, homosexual individuals should be allowed to seek safety in the United States due to the social implications that may result from their identity. Approximately 11,400 asylum applications pertaining to the persecution of LGBT individuals were filed between 2012-2017.
In several countries worldwide, LGBT people have either suffered or lived in fear of being brutalized or criminalized due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and have experienced violence. Those a part of the LGBT community may flee from their own country in instances of fear of being imprisoned or sentenced to death.
Today, the United States welcomes all members of the LGBT community regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression. While this process can be extensive, there are several American organizations that can help provide housing, food and other accommodations for LGBT immigrants. For more information about resources for LGBT asylum seekers in the United States, you can visit United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which provides services for refugees as well as asylum seekers.
LGBT Asylum FAQS
Can I apply for asylum in the United States if I'm gay?
Yes, you can apply for asylum in the United States if you are a part of the LGBT community and fear that you are in danger of becoming a victim of persecution in your native country. You can apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States with Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal.
How do I prove that I'm a part of the LGBT community to an immigration judge?
Asylum officers or Immigration judges perform assessments to determine whether or not you are a part of the LGBT community. Some asylum officers or immigration judges may ask that you provide testimony or physical proof, such as subscriptions to LGBT media, membership or participation in LGBT groups or even look to your appearance for further confirmation.
However, it can become difficult to provide proof of one's affiliation with the LGBT community as many individuals may fear associating with the community for fear of persecution, which is why members of the LGBT community may be seeking asylum in the first place.
What are my chances of getting asylum in the United States as a member of the LGBT community?
Since the rate of asylum varies from one presidential administration to another, TRAC Immigration is the best resource to find the latest federal immigration data, regarding asylum approval rates.