An asylee is a person who is either physically present in the U.S. or is at a land border or port of entry of the U.S. and who, because of a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion” is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, and is unable or unwilling to avail him- or herself of the protection of that country. Persecution is defined as “a threat to the life or freedom of, or the infliction of suffering or harm upon, those who differ in a way regarded as offensive.” If the applicant establishes past persecution, there is a presumption that he or she has a well-founded fear of future persecution.
There are numerous statutory exceptions and exclusions to the grant of asylum:
(a) the applicant ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of others;
(b) the applicant, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime in the U.S., constitutes a danger to the community. An aggravated felony conviction is a conviction for a particularly serious crime;
(c) there are serious reasons for believing that the applicant has committed a serious, nonpolitical crime outside the U.S. prior to arrival;
(d) there are reasonable grounds for regarding the alien as a danger to the security of the U.S.;
(e) the applicant is described as a terrorist (e.g., membership in a terrorist organization, material support to a terrorist organization, endorsing or espousing terrorist activity);
(f) the applicant has been firmly resettled in another country prior to arriving in the U.S.
(g) the applicant may also be removed, pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, to a safe third country in which the person’s life or freedom would not be threatened and where he or she would have access to a full and fair asylum procedure, unless the Attorney General finds it is in the public interest to grant asylum. The Canada-U.S. agreement bars person arriving from Canada or in transit during removal from Canada from applying for asylum, withholding or Convention Against Torture and requires them to return to Canada for consideration of these claims;
(h) the applicant previously applied for and was denied asylum, unless changed circumstances exist which materially affect the applicant’s eligibility for asylum;
(i) the applicant did not file the asylum claim within one year after arrival in the U.S., unless changed circumstances exist that materially affect eligibility for asylum, or extraordinary circumstances relate to the delay in filing.
(j) the time limits on filing asylum and the safe third-country bar are inapplicable to unaccompanied children (under 18 years old).