What is Asylum or Refugee Status and Who Qualifies?
An asylee or refugee is an individual who establishes a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group. The difference between an asylee and a refugee is that an asylee is a person applying for such protection within the US, and a refugee is the term used for a person applying for such protection outside the US.
In addition to i) proving a well-founded fear on one of the enumerated bases, applicants for asylum should ii) apply within 1 year of entering the US.
A “well-founded fear,” again, has to be on account of a specific basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group. This basic definition is proven to be difficult to consistently implement, particularly in cases where a person is claiming that their persecution is due to membership in a particular group. Generally, social group should be somewhat narrowly defined. Another issue within the discussion of “well-founded fear” include the fact that an applicant must prove that the fear is reasonable, and “reasonable” means that there is a reasonable possibility that the person would be persecuted. The US Supreme Court suggests that a 1/10 rule, in that if there is a 10% risk that the applicant will suffer persecution, the fear is well-founded.
While there is a rule requiring asylum applicants to apply within 1 year of entering the US, there are exceptions. Some of these exceptions include changed country conditions and extraordinary circumstances. In the case of changed country conditions, the applicant would have to show that the circumstances have changed in their home country, to the point a claim for asylum would accrue. At the point that the claim accrued, the asylum applicant must apply within a reasonable time. As for extraordinary circumstances leading to delay in filing, such circumstances can include serious illness or disability, which may include PTSD as a result of past harm.