Reasons for Denial of Asylum Applications in the United States

The general purpose of the asylum process is to provide protection for individuals who are subject to persecution in their native country for certain reasons, including political and religious persecution. To that end, there are a couple of tests that must be passed before an individual can qualify for asylum.

Qualifying for Asylum

First, you must show that your fear of persecution is “well-founded.” Immigration laws and court opinions do not have a bright-line test for determining what is “well-founded,” however, it must be a fear that is something more than mere speculation. If you do not meet this general threshold requirement, you will not qualify for asylum, by its very definition.

The second part of the asylum process contemplates that the individual is already in the United States or a port of entry. If you are not in the United States or port of entry, you cannot apply for asylum. However, you may qualify for other programs to seek protection, as a refugee for example. 

Other Reasons for Asylum Being Denied

Even if you meet both of these components - subject to persecution and in the U.S. - your application can still be denied for other reasons. Some reasons focus on procedures, whereas others focus on national safety concerns.

Procedural reasons usually involve the application process. To apply for affirmative asylum processing, you must file your application within one year of your last entry into the United States. You must also submit a complete application. Unless you qualify for a limited exception, failure to timely file a complete application can prevent you from being granted asylum.

Agreements and prior applications can also affect your ability to receive asylum. For example, if the United States has an agreement with another country that will also provide for protection for asylees seeking protection from your native country, you may be denied asylum and be required to relocate in the third country. If you had a previous application for asylum that was denied, your asylum application can again be denied.

Issues of National Security

Assuming that you generally qualify and you have completed all of the procedural requirements, your application can still be denied based on national safety concerns. If you have been convicted of serious crimes or you assisted in the persecution of others, you could be considered a danger to the U.S. national security. If you have been a member of a group that has previously threatened the United States in some way, you can also be denied asylum.

Not all criminal convictions will preclude you from being granted asylum. As part of your application process you are required to detail your entire criminal history. Omitting parts of your history, thereby submitting an incomplete application, can result in your asylum application being denied, even if the criminal conviction itself would not have disqualified you.

The bottom line is that those who do not comply with procedural or statutory requirements, or who pose a safety risk, cannot be granted asylum. Some limited exceptions do apply to these situations. Consulting with a qualified immigration attorney prior to filing your application will assist you in identifying potential problems and solutions associated with your asylum application.