Any person who is outside of any country of such person’s nationality or in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
The standard for persecution is expansive and encompasses a broad range of acts. Infliction of harm or suffering by a government, or persons a government is unwilling or unable to control, to overcome a characteristic of the victim constitutes persecution. Serious human rights violations have been found to be persecution. The threat the applicant for asylum fears must be a country-wide threat. If the asylum applicant could internally relocate in his home country, and thereby escape the threat of persecution, a grant of asylum is not warranted. When an asylum applicant shows past persecution, he meets the definition of a refugee and is eligible for a grant of asylum. A well-founded fear of future persecution is then relevant to the favorable exercise of discretion to grant asylum. An asylum applicant who has not suffered past persecution may still be eligible for asylum based on a fear of future persecution. This fear must be subjectively real and objectively reasonable.
There is a one year filing deadline for asylum applications: the asylum application must be filed prior to the one year anniversary of the applicant’s entry into the United States. There are exceptions to the one year filing deadline: Maintenance of valid status is one of the exceptions to the one year filing deadline. In other words, if the applicant has maintained valid immigration status in the United States, he may apply after the one year filing deadline. Changed circumstances and exceptional circumstances also constitute exceptions to the one year filing deadline.
Political conditions may change in the applicant’s home country and make the filing of the application after the one year deadline necessary.