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You can seek asylum in the United States

If you are already in the United States and cannot return or are unwilling to return to your home country, you may be able to seek asylum. You must have a well-founded fear of returning due to one of several factors. For example, if you feel you will be injured due to your race, persecuted due to your religion or could be hurt due to your social group, political opinion or nationality, then you have the right to seek asylum.

Asking for asylum is the same as being a refugee, except for the fact that refugees apply for entry to the United States while outside the country. When asking for asylum, you're already in the country and are seeking to stay. To be granted asylum, you must meet the legal definition for a refugee.

You need to seek asylum, and ask for it, at a port-of-entry. If you did not do that, then you must apply within a year of arrival in the United States. There is an exception. If your country's conditions change later than the one-year requirement or if extraordinary conditions prevented you from filing for asylum within a year, then you can proceed with your request.

You may think you're unable to file for asylum if you're in the United States illegally, but that's not true. As long as you qualify for asylum, you can request it. Our website has more information about seeking asylum and what to expect when you do so. You should not have to fear returning to a country where you face penalties or death.

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