Asylum status can be granted to an immigrant who can demonstrate that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution, in the past or in the future, in his or her county on the basis of race, nationality, religion, political beliefs, or particular social groups (including family). An immigrant wishing to apply for asylum must be physically present in the U.S., and any asylum petition must be filed within one year of arriving on U.S. soil.
Asylum is granted at the discretion of the immigration hearing officer or court, based on their analysis of various factors. The hearing officer or court will question any applicant for asylum for details about how he or she has been persecuted or believes he or she will be persecuted if returned to the home country. Asylum is not lightly granted, and usually only those petitions that have substantial supporting documentation and testimony are granted by hearing officers or courts.