What Are the Criteria for Being Given Political Asylum in the U.S.?


Quick Answer

To be granted political asylum, an individual must already be within the United States and have suffered persecution or fear likely persecution if he returns to the country of origin, explains Nolo. Such persecution must be motivated by the person's race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group membership. A person may qualify for status as a "political refugee" if he meets these conditions but is not yet within the United States.

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Full Answer

The persecution in question does not necessarily have to have been committed or threatened by the ruling government of the country of origin, according to Nolo. If a group within the country has committed such acts, and the ruling government has been either unwilling or incapable of stopping the persecution, its victims are eligible for political asylum or refugee status.

Of the five grounds that qualify a person for political asylum protection once persecution has been established, race, religion and nationality can be unambiguously ascertained, notes Nolo. A person's political opinion is best proven as a qualifying risk if it is shown that the persecuting party is aware of it. Asylum conditions, however, may also be granted if the persecutors' incorrect perceptions of political beliefs lead to persecution. Membership in a persecuted social group can be successfully claimed through historical association or through identifying characteristics that cannot or justifiably should not be abandoned.

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