Asylum and Refugees

Our Legal Team


Steven L. Tuchman
Director
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Thomas R. Ruge
Director
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Robert W. Rund
Director
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Sarah Moshe

Sarah Burrow
Director
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Dallin Lykins

Dallin Lykins
Associate
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Indianapolis Asylum Attorneys

Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving or already physically present in the United States. People seeking asylum protection must have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution on the basis of: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

To apply for asylum in the United States, a foreign national may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of arrival in the U.S. and regardless of your immigration status.

In rare cases, a foreign national may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to the failure to file within one year.

Refugee

A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. If the person is not in the United States, he or she may apply for inclusion in the U.S. refugee program. If the person is already in the United States, he or she may apply for the U.S. asylum program.

A refugee does not include a person who has left his or her home only to seek a more prosperous life, also known as an economic migrant. People fleeing civil wars and natural disasters may not be eligible for resettlement under U.S. law. However, they may fall within the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Each year, the United States resettles a limited number of refugees. Refugees may be eligible for a USCIS interview for resettlement in the United States if:

  • UNHCR, or the U.S. Embassy, or a non-governmental organization refers them to the United States for resettlement.
  • They are members of specified groups with special characteristics in certain countries determined by the United States.
  • They have an anchor relative (for definition see the "Glossary" link to the right) in the United States who is a refugee or asylee.

Generally, refugees must be outside their homelands to be eligible for the U.S. refugee program; however the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) processes refugees in their home countries in a few places.

Even if an applicant is determined by USCIS to be a refugee, refugees must be admissible to the United States. An applicant can be found "inadmissible" to the United States for a variety of reasons, including criminal, health, or security-related grounds.

Ineligibility for the U.S. refugee program does not necessarily prevent eligibility for UNHCR protection or resettlement in other countries.

Lewis & Kappes attorneys have assisted many asylum applicants to prove they cannot return to their home country because of fear of persecution.