man hand with refugee asylum chits in handIn accordance with U.S. immigration law, those who have fled their home country out of fear for their safety and are unable to return are eligible for special legal protections known as asylum and refugee status. However, these safeguards aren’t always present. People who want to be granted asylum or refugee status must submit an asylum application and persuade the U.S. government of their need.

Some people will merely be unable to convince the American administration that they truly fear persecution. However, under established American law, some people who have been truly persecuted or who have a legitimate reason to fear further persecution may still be denied asylum.

The following actions will prohibit an individual from applying for asylum or refugee status:

  • Aiding in the persecution of others
  • Posing a threat to American safety or security
  • Having already “firmly resettled” abroad
  • Having previously requested refuge and been turned down
  • Entering the nation more than a year ago
  • Traveling through a “safe third country”

Let’s examine each of these areas in more detail.

Those Who Have Participated in the Persecution of Others

If a person has ordered, incited, helped with, or taken part in the persecution of another person due to that person’s race, religion, membership in a particular social group, political viewpoint, or nationality, the U.S. government will reject their claim for refugee or asylum status.

This rule, for instance, has been applied to deny refugee status to police or military personnel who assisted in the persecution of guerrilla or minority groups, despite the fact that these individuals may legitimately fear for their lives as a result of the groups’ members seeking retaliation against them.

Applicants Who Have Committed Specific Crimes or Present Security or Safety Threats to the United States

Crimes and security or safety issues are significant obstacles for those looking for asylum. Anyone seeking asylum or refugee status who has been convicted of a “particularly serious crime” and poses a threat to American society will be given these statuses.

To begin with, all “aggravated felonies” are regarded as particularly serious crimes. Furthermore, the term “aggravated felony” is strictly defined by U.S. immigration laws, so some crimes that may have been classified as misdemeanors at the time of prosecution will now be viewed as aggravated felonies.

The following may also be included in the list:

man in handcuffs in front of police cars

  • Any crime involving gang activity
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Any felony under federal or state law
  • Alien smuggling or harboring
  • Unlawful reentry into the United States
  • A crime of domestic violence (even without a conviction if an adjudicator finds the person to have engaged in these acts)

A misdemeanor including the use of fake identification, receiving public benefits without authorization, and having or trafficking in a controlled substance (other than a single conviction of possession of 30 grams of marijuana for personal use)

Additionally, no one will be given refugee or asylum status if they have been convicted of a major nonpolitical felony in a nation outside of the United States. People with less serious or political offenses can still be eligible though. If you were detained for participating in a protest or insurrection, for example, this could possibly help, not damage, your asylum claim—but before you apply, speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney.

No one who has engaged in terrorist activity—or who may legitimately be seen as posing a threat to American security—will be granted refugee or asylum status.

According to a final rule published in December 2020, applicants may be judged ineligible for both withholding of removal and asylum on the basis of urgent public health concerns caused by a communicable disease. However, this is more likely to apply to large groups of applicants, namely those attempting to enter the United States through its southern border.

Candidates Who Have Established Firm Roots in Another Country

A person who has fled their country of origin but afterwards “firmly resettled” themselves in another nation will also not be granted asylum or refugee status. This denotes that the applicant has requested protection in the United States while also:

  • Obtained citizenship or permanent residency from another nation
  • Made long-term travel and lodging arrangements in the adopted nation
  • Attained financial independence as a result of education, employment, or the conduct of professional or business affairs in the adopted nation

Those Who Had Already Applied for Asylum But Were Turned Down

If a person’s first application for asylum was turned down, they are ineligible to submit another one. However, if you are reapplying for asylum because the circumstances in your home country have changed so significantly that they no longer support your application for refuge, this criterion does not apply.

Candidates Who Submit an Asylum Application More than a Year After Arriving in the Country

A person cannot be granted asylum if they apply for it more than a year after arriving in the country. But there are exceptions to this rule. You might be eligible for such an exception if you are seeking asylum because the conditions in your home country have changed so significantly that they no longer allow you to be eligible for asylum or if “exceptional circumstances” prohibited you from filing within a year.

Those Who have Traveled through “Safe Third Countries”

shadow of man women with belongingsPrior to requesting asylum in the United States, a person who transits via a “safe third nation” must do it there. Contrary to its name, a “safe third country” is really a nation with whom the United States has a legal agreement (referred to as a “treaty”), one that has comprehensive asylum procedures, and one in which you would not be in danger. In the past, Canada was the only nation that could fulfill these requirements.

However, a recently established rule states that if an individual did not apply for asylum and received a denial, transit via any other country that provided refuge would preclude their eligibility for asylum.

Further Resources

For further details on American immigration rules, including those pertaining to asylum and refugee status, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of highly trained professionals at Pride Immigration today for more details and information regarding the bars to eligibility for an asylum application in the United States.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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