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Does a criminal record bar foreign nationals from U.S. asylum?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Immigration Law

Although American immigration laws are complicated, the nation typically enables foreign nationals to seek asylum here even if they have committed a crime. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office investigates all applications for asylum before making a decision.

Nonviolent or minor criminal offenses will not count against you because they did not place others in danger. Other crimes, however, can block you from obtaining asylum against persecution in any American state.

Terroristic involvement

As you might expect, activities involving terrorism always raise a red flag in USCIS offices. Since terroristic acts could endanger many human souls, the USCIS typically denies asylum applications filed by those currently or previously involved in terrorism.

Examples cited by the USCIS:

  • Has incited terrorism
  • Is a member of a terrorist organization
  • Has convinced others to participate in terrorism
  • Has received military-style training in a terrorist organization

The nation remains reluctant to grant asylum to anyone who has already or might perform terrorist acts.

Serious offenses

If the USCIS finds you engaged in “particularly serious crimes,” it will likely deny your asylum request. For example, aggravated felonies like murder, kidnapping and rape typically lead to application denials. Further, if you commit such crimes after receiving asylum, it could lead to deportation.

The USCIS also generally denies asylum to those who have participated in persecuting others for their race, nationality, religion, etc.

You should know that Washington state welcomes asylum-seekers. Some 5,700 foreign nationals obtain asylum in the Northwest region each year. Learning more about national asylum laws can ensure your application has the best chance of success.