Published on the World Journal Weekly on October 21, 2018
Came to U. S. As a Student, Have Stopped Studying, And Ask if I Can Apply for Political Asylum Based on My Experiences in China?
I came to the U. S. to study film at a college in California. Because of economic problems with my sponsor, I had to quit my schooling in May 2018. I just got a letter from the school telling me that I am out of status, and will have to leave the U. S. or ask for reinstatement. At this time, can I apply for political asylum based on my background in China in which I was a photographer for a city newspaper, took photographs of people in protest against government corruption which were published, and because of that was beaten and arrested by the local police? I was detained for a week but not charged.
The U. S. grants political asylum based upon past persecution or well-founded fear of persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. In your case, the reason for which you took the photographs of protest may determine whether your case falls within “political opinion.” If you had no motivation for taking the pictures other than to earn money as a photographer, then you might not qualify. Otherwise it would appear that your case has merit. Whether it can be approved on the basis of past persecution depends upon the severity of the beating and imprisonment. Because of the fact that it has been 3-4 months since you quit your studies, I suggest that (if you are qualified based on the above) you apply as quickly as possible. For persons who held legal status in the States, U.S.C.I.S. expects an asylum application to be filed within a “reasonable period of time” after the ending of the status. 6 months is considered the outward limit of reasonableness with some immigration officers believing that 6 months is already too late, and so we believe that the earlier the better in your case.