A person seeking political asylum in the United States who is afraid of returning to their country because they are being persecuted due to their political opinion would essentially be asking for political asylum.

This means that the grounds of their asylum request is based on political persecution. However, asylum is not limited to political grounds. People who are persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group can also apply for asylum. All people who are seeking asylum apply for asylum in the same way and with the same application forms and process. There is no separate “political asylum.” Political asylum simply means that an individual has applied for asylum based on persecution due to their political opinion.

What is asylum based on political opinion?

Anyone who holds a political opinion that results in persecution from their government, or from a group the government cannot or will not control, can apply for asylum. Also, anyone who has an imputed political opinion and faces similar persecution can also apply for asylum in the US. An imputed political opinion is an opinion attributed to you even if you don’t hold that actual political opinion. In other words, sometimes certain characteristics will make people believe that you hold a certain political opinion because that is the status quo. For instance, in many countries, if you are a particular minority then many people will assume that you support minority rights. If you are persecuted because of these assumed political beliefs then you are eligible for asylum in the same way someone who actually holds those political opinions would be. 

It is also important to note that a person can file for asylum on multiple grounds. Many asylum applicants face persecution for a combination of reasons. For instance, an individual from a particular minority group may face persecution both due to their race and their political opinion and/or even due to their membership in a further defining social group in that country. In these instances, a person would be filing asylum due to multiple grounds. Many, if not most, asylum cases have more than one grounds for their asylum case. You are not limited to applying for asylum under only one grounds.

How to apply for “political asylum” or asylum on political grounds?

It is important to note that asylum can be a difficult process. An experienced asylum immigration attorney should be consulted to assist in the application process.

As earlier noted, everyone who applies for asylum in the US uses the same forms and processes. If you fear persecution in your home country due to your real or imputed political opinion, you would first fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. Then it is recommended that the applicant write a thorough personal statement outlining what happened to them, how they were persecuted and/or why they fear future persecution. They should also include the group(s) targeting them and why as well as addressing concerns regarding potential relocation in the country. If you are applying for asylum based on multiple grounds, it is best to explain all the reasons why the government and/or a particular group is targeting you. Remember to be thorough in explaining the threats to you. Do no limit yourself to “political asylum” if there are other factors and characteristics that make you a target for persecution in your home country.

After completing the personal statement, an applicant should go about collecting all the evidence that they can find to support their case. It is important to look for all the evidence possible to help your case. Even little things that back up your story are helpful and should be included. It is always good to think about emails, social media posts, pictures, news items, publications, and other items should be reviewed to see if there are any items of evidence. These items are especially good when your asylum is based on political opinion. Remember to try and show that your political opinion was known, and/or is attributed to you without any action on your part. 

Finally, if you have a political asylum claim, it is also very important to have a Country Conditions section to your asylum case. This is a section where you include reports, media sources, and/or any other resources that explain the conditions in your home country. Resources can be in the form of news articles, academic reports, government statistical reports, assessments from non-profit or third-party groups, and many other types. These reports should cover country conditions that are pertinent to your claims and case. It is also important to include enough reports and resources to adequately show the conditions in your country. One big report, for instance, is generally not enough to establish country conditions. An immigration attorney who is familiar with asylum would be able to assist and guide you with the various sections and the process of applying for asylum. It is always best to consult and immigration attorney when applying for asylum.

If you are preparing for an asylum interview, make sure to check out our post about the asylum interview and sample questions to study.

FAQs For Who Qualifies For Political Asylum

What happens if I lose my political asylum case?

First it is important to clarify that there are several ways to apply for asylum. There is an affirmative asylum application process and a defensive asylum application process. With the affirmative asylum process, an alien located in the US submits an application for asylum while they are NOT in removal proceedings. This application is sent to and first assessed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS decides if they approve the case or not. If they cannot approve the case, the applicant will be sent to immigration court unless they have another legal status in the US via another

How long will it take for my asylum/political asylum case to be decided?

The initial asylum application process can take anywhere from a few months to years. The geographic location where an application is submitted can also impact the timeline. Some areas of the country see more applications, which can impact the length of time before an application comes before an immigration judge or a USCIS officer. There are areas of the country where asylum applicants have to wait years before their cases to be decided.

Do you need an attorney to file for political asylum?

You are not required to have an attorney to apply for asylum. However, an attorney is highly recommended when applying for asylum. Asylum applications can be complicated, and an attorney can be extremely helpful in preparing a clear and strong asylum application. In addition, immigration court for those people with a defensive asylum case can find the application process particularly difficult to navigate without an attorney. It is always recommended that you consult and utilize an experienced immigration attorney when filing for asylum.

Who Qualifies For Political Asylum Conclusion

Seeking political asylum in the USA can be a complex and challenging process, the trained immigration lawyers at Shoreline Immigration are here to answer your questions about fleeing political persecution in their home countries.

The United States has a long history of providing refuge to people from all over the world who face political or social oppression, and the legal framework for granting political asylum is well established.

However, the process can take time and requires evidence and documentation to prove that the individual meets the criteria for political asylum. Please schedule a consultation today if you have any questions about applying for political asylum.