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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Fact Sheets
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Washington, DC
May 3, 2004

Asylum in the U.S.

Who is Eligible for Asylum in the U.S.
Asylum is a form of protection that allows eligible refugees who are physically present in the United States to remain in the United States. Conditions for granting asylum are described in Sec. 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Asylum may be granted to a person who is determined to be a “refugee” within the meaning of Sec. 101(a)(42) of the INA. The Act defines "refugee," in part, as any person who is outside 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 return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The INA also prohibits the granting of asylum to certain individuals, even if they are refugees. Broadly put, these prohibitions are based on persecution of others, serious criminal activity, threat to U.S. national security, and firm resettlement in a third country.

The Role of the U.S. Department of State in Asylum
The Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL/CRA) is responsible for asylum related matters in the Department of State, but does not make determinations on eligibility for asylum. Applications for asylum in the U.S. are adjudicated by the Asylum Division in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and, for aliens who are in removal proceedings, by Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals within the Department of Justice. DRL/CRA prepares responses to information requests on country conditions relevant to specific asylum claims and coordinates responses to overseas document verification requests. The Department of State responses and document investigation results are then used by Immigration Judges, USCIS asylum officers and DHS Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) trial attorneys in the litigation and adjudication of asylum applications.

The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices provides extensive information on human rights conditions around the world and serves as a valuable resource in the assessment of asylum claims. The Country Reports are available on the Internet at  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/.

Additional Resources on Asylum
For more information regarding asylum in the U.S., see the following Internet resources provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice:




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