To seek asylum in the U.S., you must go through a formal government process.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains that after you apply for asylum, an asylum officer will review your case to make sure you are eligible under the law. During this process, the officer may discover something that bans you from getting asylum.
Bars under the law
The law states specific bars or things that prevent you from receiving asylum. One bar is that you were living in another country prior to coming to the U.S. where you were safe and resettled from the country for which you seek asylum. Another bar is a conviction of a serious crime in or outside of the U.S. You may also face a bar for any actions you took in the persecution of someone based on a protected attribute, such as race or religion or if you had any involvement in terrorist activity.
You also must meet the government’s definition of a refugee. You must be unable to return to your home country or the country from which you fled because if you do, you will face prosecution for a protected attribute.
You also cannot leave the U.S. until you get your decision about asylum. If you do so without permission, the officer in charge will dismiss your application.
The officer will determine if you have any bans and your status as a refugee based on the information you supply in your interview and application process. This includes information the officer collects as part of the investigation, which may start with your application but lead to seeking information from outside sources.