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Legal Rights of Asylum Seekers in New York: What You Need to Know 2024

Legal Rights of Asylum Seekers in New York: What You Need to Know 2024

Asylum seekers are people who are at serious risk in their home country due to persecution. They apply for asylum while in another country or at a country’s port of entry. In the U.S., being granted asylum gives an asylee the right to remain in the U.S. and grants them certain protections. It’s important to understand the legal rights of asylum seekers in New York under state, federal, and international law.

Asylee Benefits and Responsibilities Under USCIS

If you are granted asylum status in the U.S., you are considered an asylee, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lists the following benefits:

  • -Authorization to work in the U.S., whether or not you have an Employment Authorization Document, although this document is important for presenting to your employer
  • -Able to apply for an unrestricted Social Security card
  • -Able to petition for family members, including your spouse and children, to come to the U.S. if they were listed on your application for asylum
  • -Able to apply for permanent residence after one year in the U.S.
  • -Able to apply for citizenship after four years with a permanent residence green card
  • -Eligible for financial aid, medical assistance, English learning services, and other aid

You also have certain obligations, including:

  • -Informing the USCIS of a change to your permanent address within 10 days of moving
  • -Requesting permission to travel overseas through a refugee travel document
  • -Registering for the Selective Service if you are a male asylee between 18 and 26

A skilled asylum attorney can help you understand the rights and obligations that are specific to your location.

Legal Rights of Asylum Seekers in New York

Asylee Rights Under the 1951 Refugee Convention

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines the international treatment of refugees, and so does the 1967 protocol. This customary international law establishes certain fundamental human rights.

A refugee is different from a person seeking asylum under U.S. immigration law, as a refugee seeks to be granted their status while in their home country, and a person seeking asylum does so from the U.S. However, the definition of a refugee under the 1951 Convention matches both a refugee and an asylee under U.S. law.

The main right that the 1951 Convention outlines is the right of non-refoulement. This is the right of a refugee or asylee to not be returned to a home country where they face significant threats to their safety, well-being, or freedom. This is also the right to not be placed in another country where they face similar threats.

The convention lists other rights of refugees and asylees, including:

  1. The right to not be removed from the host country, except in very specific circumstances
  2. The right to not face penalties or punishment for entering the country irregularly or illegally
  3. The right to religious freedom, non-discrimination, social protection, and freedom of movement in the country
  4. The right to decent work, housing, property, education, and healthcare
  5. The right to access justice
  6. The right to be issued certain documents, including identity and travel documents

In addition to these rights listed, refugees and asylees under the convention have the obligation to follow the host country’s laws and regulations.

Who Cannot Receive Refugee Protection?

Under the 1951 Convention, certain individuals should be refused the right to refugee protection. These include those who have:

  • -Committed a war crime or a crime against peace or humanity
  • -Committed a serious crime that is not of a political nature prior to being admitted as a refugee
  • -Taken actions that are contrary to the stated principles of the United Nations


Q: What Are the Human Rights of Asylum Seekers?

A: The basic human rights and treatment of asylum seekers under international law as defined in the 1951 Refugee Convention include the right to:

  • -Not be returned to a home country where they are in danger
  • -Housing, land, and intellectual property
  • -Decent work and educational opportunities for a dignified life
  • -Not be punished for illegal or irregular state/country entry
  • -Non-discrimination and freedom of religion
  • -Freedom of movement in the state/country
  • -Social protection

Q: What Are the Benefits of Asylum Seekers in New York City?

A: New York City asylees can receive certain state benefits. Through the Safety Net Assistance (SNA) program, asylees can apply for cash assistance. This assistance is $180 per month per person for up to 2 years. Other benefits in New York include:

  • -Temporary shelter
  • -Healthcare and medical treatment
  • -Access to food banks and other food resources
  • -Free legal services
  • -Access to free public education for minor children
  • -Access to free English Learning Services
  • -The ability to apply for a work permit

Q: What Are the Rules for Seeking Asylum?

A: To seek asylum in the U.S. as a non-U.S. citizen, the following must be true:

  1. You are inside the U.S., or you are at a point of entry.
  2. You are able to show that you left your home country because of persecution or fear of persecution.

The USCIS considers it to be persecution when the threat to your safety or freedom is due to your race, religion, social group, political opinion, or nationality. You should file for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S.

Q: Is There a Legal Right to Seek Asylum in the U.S.?

A: Under both U.S. federal and international law, an individual who fears persecution has the right to seek asylum in the country. In the U.S. an individual who seeks asylum must do so within a year of arriving in the country. If granted asylum, that asylee has the right to remain in the U.S. and is provided with protection, along with certain other rights and obligations.

Finding a New York Asylum Attorney to Protect Your Rights

It can be overwhelming to apply for asylum, considering the amount that is at stake for both individuals and families. At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, we want to help you through this process and treat your case with the gravity and skill you deserve. Our team provides compassionate and skilled legal representation, and we have worked in both state and federal immigration law. Contact our firm today to see how we can help you.

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