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Political asylum is granted by the U.S. government to people who can prove that they are afraid to return to their home country because they have a "well-founded fear of persecution." People may also be granted political asylum if they left their home country because they were persecuted in the past. If you win political asylum, you can apply for your "green card" (permanent residence). T o win asylum because you are afraid of returning to your home country, you must appear at an initial hearing before a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer, usually at a USCIS district office. If you application for asylum is denied, you may appeal to an immigration judge, and will have another opportunity to prove that your fear is "well-founded."

You must convince the asylum officer or immigration judge that you truly believe you are in danger, that you have good reasons for this belief, and that someone else in your position would also be afraid. You must generally present independent, verifiable documentary evidence that shows you fear persecution in your home country or that you have been persecuted in the past. Persecution can mean that you have been, or may be, hurt, kidnapped, detained, jailed, tortured, threatened, killed, or beaten, or that your freedom was or will be taken away in any other way.

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The people who persecuted you or whom you're afraid will persecute you if you return to your home country can be the government (army, police, soldiers, elected officials, death squads, or others), the guerrillas, another opposition group, the civil patrol, or any other group that the government cannot or will not control. The people who persecuted you or whom you think will persecute you if you return to your home country must be persecuting you based on one of the following five reasons:

  1. The most common reason for being persecuted is because of your political opinion. It doesn't matter whether you support or oppose the government. People who have been persecuted because of their political opinions and have won their asylum cases have included: people who demonstrate as students, are active in labor unions, or are members of political parties or the government. Sometimes, even if you don't have a political opinion, the persecutor may think you have a certain political opinion. He may persecute you because he thinks you have a political opinion due to things you do, groups you belong to, or your family's background.

  2. Another common reason for being persecuted is your religion, no matter what religion it is. If you're not allowed to practice your religion or you are persecuted because of your religious beliefs, you may be able to qualify for asylum.

  3. Often people are persecuted because they belong to a particular social group. This means people who share certain characteristics such as: age, place where they live, family, ethnic group, race, nationality, gender or community.

  4. Sometimes people are persecuted because of their race. This means that if you have been or may be persecuted because of your skin color, origin or background you may qualify for asylum.

  5. Some people are persecuted because of their nationality. Nationality is similar to race. It can mean your country of citizenship, country of origin or your ethnic group.

  6. Recently, the immigration and federal courts have also created a new ground for persecution based on sex and the treatment of women in foreign countries, and this ground may include the practice of female genital mutilation in the asylum applicant's home country.

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Law office of Mchael Adegeorgis.
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