What It Takes to Win Asylum in the U.S.

Home > Blog > What It Takes to Win Asylum in the U.S.

What It Takes to Win Asylum in the U.S.

Many fleeing persecution in their native countries find the United States to be a welcoming place. However, even as the country has welcomed for centuries those fleeing from persecution, getting asylum is extremely difficult. This is because the criteria to be granted asylum is so strict that few satisfy the requirements. At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, we have experienced asylum lawyers who routinely help clients in the Chicago area to successfully apply for asylum.

Eligibility for Asylum

To apply for asylum in the U.S., you must be a refugee as defined under U.S. immigration law. If you meet the definition of refugee, then you can apply for asylum by filing the proper paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is just the beginning of the long and arduous asylum application process, but an experienced immigration lawyer in Chicago can make things much less arduous with improved chances of success. 

If your application passes the initial test to determine whether you are eligible, then next, an immigration officer will determine whether there are facts or circumstances about you that will bar you from being approved for asylum. These can be anything provided under the law, but the most common are as follows.


The law requires that one must file an application for asylum within one year of entering the United States. So, if you have made it into the U.S., you must make sure you apply for asylum within one year. In this case, you will be applying under the “affirmative” asylum process. This means you are applying for asylum before being placed in deportation or removal proceedings. You will be applying for asylum with USCIS, which will decide whether to approve or deny your case. You must be physically present in the U.S. to affirmatively apply for asylum, though you can apply at an entry point to the U.S., such as an airport or border checkpoint.

However, the U.S. government will now generally presume anyone who unlawfully enters the United States through the southwest land border or adjacent coastal border areas is ineligible to apply for asylum unless they can prove that an exception to the law applies. Unaccompanied children are exempted from this presumption.

You can also apply for asylum “defensively,” which means applying for asylum after you have been placed in deportation or removal proceedings. In this case, your application will be decided by an immigration judge.

Making an Asylum Case

Whether you are affirmatively or defensively applying for asylum, you must convince either USCIS or an immigration judge that you have suffered persecution in the past based on the various grounds provided under the law. You must also convince the USCIS or immigration judge that you have a “well-grounded” fear of persecution in your native country. 

Although some applicants can prove their asylum cases with plenty of documents and other evidence, many are not able to do so. If you do not have a boatload of documents and other supporting evidence, then it is best to have an experienced immigration lawyer help you file a strong case with what you have and rely on other publicly available information that can help strengthen your case. 

If you are in the Chicago area and believe you have an asylum case, contact our office today and schedule an appointment to learn how we can help you.