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Asylum

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, genderqueer, or HIV positive can be grounds for an asylum claim. In more than 70 countries, some aspect of being LGBTQ is a crime. Even if it is not illegal to be LGBTQ, it may nevertheless be fundamentally unsafe to be a member of the community. Facing fear, harassment and sometimes violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status, people reach out to Immigration Equality from all over the world.  They look for answers about how to apply for asylum, about what the process is like, and about the potential benefits and risks involved. 

Asylum is an immigration benefit that allows certain foreign nationals who fear persecution to remain lawfully in the U.S. indefinitely. If a person does not qualify for asylum, they may qualify for withholding of removal, or deferral of removal under the Convention against Torture (CAT).  Please see the links below for more information on asylum/Withholding/CAT.

Important Note: Unfortunately, right now a filing deadline exists that renders many LGBTQ people ineligible for asylum. The way the law is currently written one must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. There are some exceptions to the filing deadline rule (see below), but they are narrow and sometimes difficult to prove. Because the filing deadline was created by statutory law, only Congress can make the change we need. Asylum claims should be considered based on merit, not compliance with an arbitrary deadline.

    Eligibility

    The Trump Administration has imposed additional requirements for applicants to be eligible to qualify for asylum. An asylum seeker must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one…

    Application Process

    Filing for asylum is a very serious decision and one should consult with an attorney before filing.  If one files on their own, please keep a copy of every piece of paper…

    Work and Travel while Pending

    Employment Authorization Individuals with a pending asylum application may be eligible work authorization in the United States. After an applicant files their application for asylum, they must wait 150 days from the…

    Case Outcome

    Affirmative asylum cases may conclude in three ways. First, the case may be approved. If so, the process concludes. Second, an applicant may receive a request for additional evidence (an RFE) or…

    Refugees

    Becoming a refugee or seeking asylum are in some ways related, but they are two distinctly different immigration benefits. Immigration Equality works primarily with LGBTQ and HIV positive asylum seekers, detained immigrants…

    Case Law

    Since 2003, the number of precedential LGBTQ asylum cases has more than tripled. Below is a case chart that combines precedential and non-precedential decisions from federal court, current as of September, 2017. Remember,…

    Asylum Manual

    Welcome to the third edition of Immigration Equality and the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center’s LGBTQ/HIV Asylum Manual. Fully updated in 2006, this edition is a web-based document that can be viewed…

The information contained herein is for reference only and may not be up to date. It does not constitute legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your matter.

This handbook is intended for use by pro bono attorneys and immigration attorneys working on LGBTQ/HIV asylum cases.

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