Immigrants may qualify for asylum if they either were persecuted or believe they will be persecuted in the future in their native countries on the basis of:
- political opinion
- membership in a particular social group.
There is a one-year deadline from the date of entry into the United States to apply for asylum.
People granted asylum may apply for permanent residence (Green Card) after one year. It is also possible to apply for asylum or asylum-related relief after being placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.
Persons who do not apply timely for asylum may qualify for Withholding of Removal or for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Those granted these types of relief will not qualify for permanent residence, but they may remain in the United States and obtain employment authorization.