Asylum has been a hot-button political issue in our nation as of late. It is important for people in Georgia and elsewhere to understand what a person must do to obtain asylum in the United States. With this information, those seeking asylum can make informed decisions on the topic.

There are two means of obtaining asylum in the U.S. One way is through affirmative asylum processing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The other way is through defensive asylum processing with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

A person must have a physical presence in the U.S. to pursue asylum via the affirmative asylum process. It does not matter how the person entered the U.S. nor does it matter what a person’s current immigration status is. They have 12 months from the date of their latest arrival in the U.S. to apply for this type of asylum, unless they can show that there has been a material change in circumstances affecting whether they are eligible for asylum or they can show that they experienced extraordinary circumstances that delayed their ability to file for asylum. In either of these cases, a person must be able to show that they filed for asylum within a reasonable amount of time. In general, those applying for affirmative asylum will not face detention and may reside in the U.S. until a decision is made on their case.

The defensive asylum process acts as a defense to those who are facing removal by the EOIR. To be placed into defensive asylum processing, one of two circumstances must exist. Either a person must obtain a referral to a USCIS Immigration Judge after being denied asylum via the affirmative process, or they must have either been apprehended at a port of entry because they have violated their immigration status or because they do not have the necessary legal papers. A person may also obtain defensive asylum if they attempted to enter the U.S. unlawfully, were subjected to an expedited removal process and were deemed to have a credible fear of torture or persecution in their nation of origin.

This is only a very general overview of the two means for obtaining asylum in the U.S. Those who wish to learn more about seeking asylum in the U.S. may want to seek professional guidance before proceeding, so they can understand what to expect.