Individuals applying for asylum in Pennsylvania must meet certain burdens established by statute and enforced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The general rule is that any alien may apply for asylum as long as he or she is physically present in the U.S. That rule is subject to exceptions in some cases for individuals who fail to apply within one year of arrival, who have been previously denied asylum or who may be removed to a safe third country. There are further exceptions based on the prior conduct, perceived danger or other attributes of the applicant.
Asylum may be granted upon a demonstration by the applicant that he or she is a refugee as defined by statute, i.e., that he or she is subject to persecution due to religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group in the country fled. The applicant may meet the burden of demonstration by testimony to the trier of fact, if the trier of fact determines the testimony to be persuasive, credible and specific regarding sufficient facts.
The trier of fact may ask the applicant to provide corroboration of testimony in some cases. Corroborating evidence must then be provided unless the applicant does not have it and cannot obtain it by reasonable effort. In determining the credibility of the applicant, the trier of fact may consider all relevant factors including the applicant's candor, demeanor and responsiveness.
The qualifications for asylum are considered on a case-by-case basis and each individual case presents unique circumstances that may influence the outcome of the proceedings. This blog post is meant to provide general information only and should not be read as legal advice. Individuals who have questions about the process of seeking asylum in the United States may want to consult an attorney with experience in immigration law.
Source: US Citizenship and Immigration Services, "INA: ACT 208 - ASYLUM ", September 30, 2014