USA: The Largest Single Recipient Of Asylum Applications

Many times we only hear about asylum when media celebrities are seeking political asylum. You may remember Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, looking for a country that would grant him asylum in 2012. More recently, Edward Snowden's hunt for a country that will accept him has made headlines. Celebrity asylum is only a small part of the group of people who seek asylum, though.

Every year thousands of people are forced to leave their home countries because of political instability, war and persecution. Those who flee to another country are known as refugees. Refugees who request specific legal protections by the government once they have immigrated to a new country are known as asylum seekers.

The United States plays a prominent role in the refugee and asylum process worldwide. The country was founded on principles that include protection from persecution. Families and individuals from around the world move to the U.S. each year, seeking refuge from their home countries because of oppression and maltreatment based on their religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.

Refugee Applicants
In 2012, there were more than 479,000 applications for refugee status submitted worldwide. These people were seeking refuge in one of the world's 44 industrialized countries. The United States topped these nations, with more than 83,400 applications last year.

This was the seventh consecutive year the U.S. has received more than any other nation. USA refugee applications beat second-ranked Germany by almost 20,000 applicants. France was third, with 54,900 applications registered. Sweden (43,900) and the United Kingdom (27,400) round out the top five.

While the U.S. receives a large amount of applications, not all of these are approved. Between 2005 and 2007, an average of 48,000 applications were approved each year. Since 1980, about two million refugees have moved to the United States. Since the influx began after World War II, the U.S. has welcomed more refugees than any other country.

Asylum Seekers
Likewise, more people seek USA asylum over applying for asylum in any other country. These families and individuals already live in the U.S. but need support from the government in order to protect them from the persecution in their country or origin. They must apply for asylum status within a year of moving to the United States.

As a part of the asylum application process, refugees must prove a true threat of persecution in their home country. This can be based on their religion, race, nationality, ethnicity, social class, political group or a number of other factors. The U.S. approved 21,113 people for asylum in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Country of Origin
Most refugees in the United States come from war-torn countries rife with political strife and ethnic and religious feuding. Around 18,000 refugees moved to the United States from Iraq in 2010. The second highest country of origin was Burma, with 16.693 refugees. Other countries with a large number of refugees to the U.S. include Bhutan, Somalia, Cuba and Iran.

The majority of USA asylum cases, however, come from China. The U.S. has unique provisions provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act. These provisions extend asylum to those who are affected by forced family planning in their native country. China has laws in place to limit the number of children allowed per family. More than 24,400 people filed for asylum protection against China in 2010, and 63 percent of these filings were in the United States.

More than 6,680 asylum applications were accepted from Chinese nationals in 2010. The next largest group was from Ethiopia with only 1,093. Haiti was third for accepted applications with 832.

About the author:

Jennifer Caughey is a freelance content writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. Jennifer has taken a special interest in high profile asylum cases. She has most recently been writing guest posts forĀ My Visa Source.

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