Foreign citizens may qualify for asylum if they either were persecuted or believe they will be persecuted in the future in their native countries on account of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. There is a one­year deadline from the date of entry into the United States to apply for asylum.

Those who do not apply timely may qualify for withholding of removal or for relief under the Convention Against Torture. It is also possible to apply for for this relief after being placed in removal proceedings. People with asylum may apply for permanent residence after one year.