Political asylum is actually an umbrella term for three different forms of protection from persecution in a foreign country. Those are:
True asylum requires an applicant to show he or she will be persecuted in their home country on account of their race, religion, nationality, particular social group, or political opinion. An asylum applicant must generally apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. An asylum application can be made affirmatively with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or as a defense to deportation in immigration court. Approval of an asylum application can result in receiving a green card.
Withholding of Removal
This application is very similar to asylum, but there are some important differences. First, you can only apply for withholding of removal in immigration court. That is, it is purely a defense to deportation. Second, there is no time limit on when a person may apply for withholding of removal (unlike asylum, which must be applied for within one year of arrival in the United States). Finally, if approved by an immigration judge, withholding of removal does not result in receiving a green card. Instead, the recipient gets a work permit and the right to live in the United States until conditions in the home country improve, though in practice most withholding recipients live in the United States the rest of their lives.
Convention Against Torture
The United States is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Therefore, the U.S. cannot deport a person to his or her home country when it is more likely than not that the person would be tortured by government officials or others acting with the consent or acquiescence of government officials. An application for protection under the Convention Against Torture can only be made in immigration court as a defense to deportation. “Torture” is defined under the immigration laws as an extreme form of physical persecution, so the harm the applicant would suffer must be particularly severe. The key aspects of an application for protection under the Convention Against Torture are to show that the harm the applicant would suffer rises to the level of torture,and that such harm would be inflicted by officials of the foreign government or others essentially working at the behest of government officials. If the torture convention application is approved by an immigration judge, the applicant does not receive a green card. Instead, he or she gets a work permit and the right to live in the United States until conditions in the home country improve, though in practice most torture convention recipients live in the U.S. the rest of their lives.
Aliens who have been the victim of a crime in the United States may qualify for a U visa. There are many types of crimes that result in the victim receiving a U visa, but some of the most common are domestic violence, aggravated assault and battery, robbery, and sexual assault. Additionally, undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children who have been victimized can also qualify for a U visa. The alien must make a police report and cooperate with authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the case. It is important to know that the vast majority of law enforcement agencies across the country will not betray the confidence of an undocumented immigrant reporting a crime by reporting them to ICE. In a fact, a certification of the alien’s cooperation in the criminal investigation is a prerequisite to filing for a U visa. Recipients of a U visa will eventually have the right to apply for a green card. The U visa, if approved, can also wipe away the immigration consequences of most criminal history, immigration fraud/misrepresentation, and illegal border crossings.
Temporary Protective Status (TPS)
Aliens present in the United States from certain designated countries that have suffered natural disasters or are subject to armed conflict, may apply for this temporary status allowing them to live and work in the U.S. for a limited time. As of February 2019, Temporary Protected Status is available for qualifying aliens from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. To be eligible to apply, an alien must have been present in the United States on the day their country’s nationals were designated by the U.S. government for temporary protected status, and must meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements for their particular country’s designation. Applications for TPS are filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, if USCIS denies the application, an applicant in removal proceedings can ask for a de novo review of the application by an immigration judge. Work and travel permits may be obtained by an alien granted TPS. The travel permit in particular can be of great benefit for an alien who otherwise would be eligible for Adjustment of Status but for an illegal entry into the United States, as it can be used to leave the U.S. and reenter it legally in order to remedy the illegal entry disqualification for Adjustment of Status. For more information on Adjustment of Status CLICK HERE.
Other Humanitarian Relief
U.S. immigration authorities have broad discretion to grant a wide range of humanitarian benefits. These can include emergency travel permits into and out of the United States, immigration parole and deferred action for family of U.S. military members, and benefits for undocumented spouses of abusive U.S. citizens and permanent residents under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).