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Laws current as of December 17, 2020

What is asylum?

Asylum is an immigration status for people who are afraid to return to their home countries. It is similar to refugee status, except that you must apply from inside the U.S., as opposed to filing from another country or a refugee camp. It is not an easy or fast process, and it is not something you should do without help from a lawyer who knows how to do asylum cases. If you fear going to your home country because of domestic violence or sexual assault that you experienced there, make sure your attorney has experience applying for asylum for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors; not all immigration attorneys do. Note: The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies is a good resource for lawyers, domestic and sexual violence advocates, and asylum-seekers who have questions regarding asylum based on domestic or sexual violence.

The biggest challenge problem to getting asylum status for those who experienced domestic or sexual violence in other countries is that the asylum law was created before violence against women, or gender-based violence, was generally recognized as a reason that people flee their countries. Although the U.S. government has granted asylum on the basis of domestic or sexual violence that was committed in another country, it can be difficult to win this type of asylum claim.

Because asylum is complicated and the rules change a lot, this section will not tell you how you can win an asylum case; it will only outline some of the main things the government says you must show.