People who have fled their home country to seek safety in the United States can seek asylum and refugee status. Under U.S. immigration law, asylum seekers can apply for these legal protections through an official application process that requires them to prove the need for security.
However, these protections are not guaranteed. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office has the right to deny asylum applications if the applicant falls within barred categories.
Bars to asylum
Even if an applicant can produce supporting documentation and provide proof of his or her persecution or fears with regard to personal safety, the U.S. government set forth a list of asylum bars that prevent approval in certain circumstances.
Asylum applications receive a denial if the applicant:
- Has engaged in persecution or the endangerment of others
- Has committed certain crimes, including aggravated felonies or trafficking crimes
- Is a threat to national safety or has any present or past affiliation with terrorist groups
- Has been previously denied asylum
- Did not apply for asylum within one year of arrival in the U.S.
Asylum applications are also denied if the asylum seeker has traveled through or can receive shelter and asylum in a safe third country.
National safety concerns
Asylum seekers who may introduce a security risk to the United States and its people will not receive application approval. In many instances, asylum bars prevent seekers from applying for asylum altogether.
It is important that each would-be applicant understand their rights and limitations in the process, as important regulations and restrictions may apply to certain cases on an individual basis.