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What is asylum?

Asylum provides safe haven in the US to an individual seeking protection from persecution in their home country. The applicant must be unwilling or unable to return to his/her home country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of at least one of these factors:

  • Race

  • Religion

  • Nationality

  • Membership in a particular group

  • Political opinion

Establishing Proof of Persecution

The applicant must submit extensive documentation to establish that persecution resulted directly from one of these grounds and not from private disputes.

Membership in a Particular Group

Membership in a particular social group must be based upon an immutable characteristic such as sex, race, or sexual orientation.

To establish this ground, you must submit documentation that the group has a discernible identity, you are a member of that group, and the group is persecuted as a result of its distinguishing characteristics.

Political Opinion

La persecución por motivos de opinión política se puede establecer si el solicitante demuestra una opinión activa y abiertamente en oposición a quienes están en una posición de autoridad, o cuando la persona ha sido perseguida en virtud de una «opinión imputada».

Other Factors

Persecution is not limited to physical abuse or torture. Denial of education and employment opportunities, arbitrary inferences with the individual’s family members, and restrictions on an individual’s rights amounting to a “threat to life or liberty”, defines persecution. On the other hand, general conditions of hardship and criminal prosecution for violating a state’s laws do not constitute persecution under the immigration laws.


Past Persecution

Evidence of past persecution is grounds for an asylum claim unless a change of circumstances indicates that no fear of future persecution is warranted. A simple assertion of past persecution is insufficient, and the applicant will be required to provide extensive documentation including any injuries, threats of violence, and restrictions.


You must base an asylum claim on a “well-founded fear of future persecution". In addition to the grounds listed above, the “well-founded fear” requires proof that a reasonable likelihood exists that the persecution will occur at the hands of the applicant’s government or a group that the government is unwilling or unable to stop from persecuting.

You have to submit evidence showing you will likely be persecuted, and that the persecutor is capable of the punishment. This confirms your fears of persecution not only in the area of the country you are fleeing from, but that you will be found and persecuted in any part of that country.


Certain individuals are automatically precluded from seeking asylum even if they meet the requirements above. These include individuals who have:

  • Participated in the persecution of othersBeen convicted of a serious crime or a serious nonpolitical crime outside the US

  • Been terrorists or endanger security in the US

  • Been offered permanent resident status or citizenship in another country

  • Failed to file the application within one year of entering the US (certain exceptions may apply)

What should my next steps be?

It is strongly recommended to have your asylum claim evaluated by an attorney experienced with asylum claims. Contact Antonini & Cohen today at 470-428-3200 for a consultation with one of our experienced Atlanta, GA refugee and asylum lawyers.

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