If an individual has fled their home country due to past persecution or fear of future persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a particular social group, they may apply for asylum. Applicants must apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States, or show that an extreme or significantly changed circumstance caused them to apply after more than one year. Applicants must also show that they could not have reasonably relocated to another part of their home country in order to avoid persecution.
Once a person applies for asylum, they can be granted Lawful Permanent Resident status, or a green card. They can also apply for work authorization in the United States, and the ability to travel outside the United States to countries other than the country from which they fled. Once a green card is obtained, asylum applicants can petition for their family members to obtain permanent resident status as well.