When people flee to America to seek asylum, escaping war-torn regions is the reason that most often come to mind. Some Americans might even think of people escaping crime-ridden areas.
There is a wealth of reasons someone may make the devastating decision to leave their home country behind and seek a new one. CNN reports that most of America's asylum seekers come from China, Guatemala, El Salvador and Egypt.
Some countries also fare much worse than others when it comes to denial rates:
- Somalia – 59.4% denied
- Guatemala – 74.7% denied
- Honduras – 78.1% denied
- El Salvador – 79.2% denied
- Haiti – 86.1% denied
- Mexico – 88% denied
Paths to asylum
When successfully granted asylum, it generally takes about 6 months, not including any time the person spent secretly living in the country. Defensive asylum is the path people follow when they are already living in the United States and wish to stay. Affirmative asylum occurs at a port of entry or after someone has been in the country for less than a year.
Regardless of which path individuals choose, they can expect a lot of paperwork, interviews and biometrics appointments. Because of the changes to the immigration system, many people find that they wait far longer than 180 days to hear a decision.
Eligibility for permanent residency
Deciding who is eligible is a complicated process, but there are some basics that apply. USCIS states that asylees may adjust their status if they remain in the U.S. for at least one year after receiving asylum. It adds that the principal asylee must also continue to meet the requirements during this time and derivative asylee(s) must maintain their relationship to the primary person.
Note that when seeking a readjusted status, the asylee must meet the same criteria that would have made them admissible to the country as a lawful immigrant. Finally, USCIS adds that they must not have resettled in any other foreign country.