If you are afraid to return to your home country because you fear that you will be harmed, you may be eligible to apply for political asylum. An applicant must establish that he or she fears persecution in their native country based upon one or more of the following: race; religion; nationality; membership in a social group; or, political opinion. As a rule, an application for asylum must be filed within one year of arrival in the United States; there are very limited exceptions to this rule. Individuals granted asylum may apply for permanent residence one year after receiving a grant of asylee status.
It is extremely important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when applying for political asylum. If your case is denied you may have to undergo a lengthy appeals process and may ultimately be ordered removed from the U.S. and be returned to your home country.