What is Asylum Based on Nationality?

Do you qualify for asylum based on your nationality?

If you have come to the United States seeking protection from persecution based on your nationality, you may be eligible for asylum in the U.S.  If you are of a particular nationality, including an ethnic or linguistic group, that has been seriously threatened or have experienced physical, psychological, or economic harm by your own government or an uncontrolled group then you may be able to qualify for asylum.

Seeking asylum based on nationality can be complicated since it can often be tied to one’s political opinions, religious beliefs, racial background, and other values or cultural distinctions.

Obtaining asylum based on nationality can include, but is not limited to, the following situations:

  • Conflicts between two or more national ethnic or linguistic groups in a country that has led to persecution of a particular group;
  • Individuals belonging to a national minority having experienced past persecution or fearing persecution from the government or a dominant national group;
  • Individuals of a national majority having experienced persecution or fear persecution by a dominant minority group; or
  • Having suffered or fearing any type of harm due directly to one’s nationality.

Proving eligibility for asylum based on nationality is a complex process.  Therefore, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney before applying.  

If you apply for asylum in the U.S. based on your nationality, you must file Form I-589  with the USCIS.  There is no fee and you are able to include your spouse and children on you application.  If you wish to work in the U.S. while you application is pending, you must wait 150 days after your application for asylum has been submitted before applying for an employment authorization document (EAD) using Form I-765.  One year after being granted asylum you may apply for a green card by filing Form I-485.

If you are in removal proceedings, you must submit your asylum application to the Immigration Judge.