Only in 2015, the United States gave asylum to about 25,199 people, allowing them to live in the United States on a legal status. Asylees may obtain a Green Card and even the American citizenship.
Between 2014 and 2015, most people who were granted asylum in Latin America were Venezuelans.
Anyone who truly fears or has suffered persecution due to race, nationality, religion, political opinion or being part of a particular social group may seek asylum.
In addition to these causes, those who have been victims of sexual assault, violence which qualifies for the U visa, trafficking and other forms of human trafficking (T visa), domestic violence, SIJ for children and unmarried youth, individuals under 21 years of age who suffer abuse, neglect or abandonment may also seek asylum.
There are two possible ways to seek asylum: the affirmative one, which is decided by the USCIS; and the defensive one, which takes place in a court of law.
If the request is denied two things may happen:
- If the applicant has a legal status (valid visa), nothing changes.
- If the applicant does not have a legal status, the USCIS sends him or her to the Immigration Court system where the process of deportation (removal proceedings) begins. In this case, there will be discussion (known as “defensive procedure”) about your entitlement to asylum.