Is your life in danger? Are you facing persecution?
This is an important question that everyone seeking asylum will be asked. We see requests often where people are hoping to find assistance in getting out of their country. Please note that many atheists are losing their lives in some countries just for being atheists. People are being imprisoned and tortured because they don’t believe in god. You should not be seeking asylum if your life is not in danger or if you’re not being persecuted in a serious way. “Everyone around me is very religious and it is hard to find someone to date” or “I’m so bored here with these religious people!” are not good reasons to seek asylum.(And yes...I've seen that reason too many times from people requesting assistance...)
If that is your reason for applying for asylum, you’re slowing down the process for everyone else truly needing help. Seeking asylum is a lot of work; it will not come free or overnight. If your life is truly in danger, please do everything necessary to protect yourself. If this means staying out of the spotlight while you gather money and resources, do it. If you don't want people to trace your internet activity during this process, please follow these steps to cover your internet tracks.
What do I do first?
The first thing you want to do is pick out where you want to go (more like, where you can afford to go). I’m going to cover criteria for becoming a refugee in Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. You can apply for asylum and in some cases you’ll be provided food and shelter while you wait for your application to go through. In other cases you will not be provided food and shelter and it is possible that you won’t be able to stay in the country while you wait for the decision. These are important things to consider while seeking asylum.
In Canada, after you apply, the decision process will take between 35-45 days, though it can take up to 60 depending on your country. Canada is great as there are 30 organizations that help asylum seekers with loans to help travel to Canada and assistance upon entering the country. They provide counseling and cultural orientation, information, translation and interpretation, language training and job assistance. You can find the addresses and contact information for these organizations here.
There are five categories looked at to determine why an applicant can not return to or live in their country: race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership of a particular social group. Membership of a particular social group will include the LGBT community and women who are treated as less than human in their country. It is important to get your reason for asylum grounded before you apply. You will not be granted asylum if you have another offer for protection such as a relative you can live with in a safe place.
You do not need to be in Canada to apply, but it gets harder. You’d need to be referred by the UNHCR or be a privately sponsored refugee. To become a privately sponsored refugee, you’d need to contact one of the 30 organizations from the link above. If you are granted refugee status, you will be mailed your visa and the CIC may provide you with a loan for travel expenses. If you need to flee right away, you can fly to Canada and when you land, find the nearest police officer. Tell them you are seeking asylum and at the airport, they will start the process with you while providing you with the paperwork and/or other information needed.
The United States
Filing for asylum in the US is easy if you have a way of getting into the US. Working with organizations such as UNHCR will give you more options. Once you’re in the US, you’ll apply and it is free to do so. You can come alone and apply for your spouse and children if you need to. The US allows refugees to apply on their family’s behalf up to one year after being granted refugee status.
Finding work while waiting for your application to be approved will be hard; this is why the Office of Refugee Resettlement is available for assistance with finances, medical assistance, job placement and English training. Upon calling their office to ensure benefits are granted, they said they help with food assistance as well.
The United Kingdom
The UK also requires you be in the country before applying for asylum. The decision process will take about 6 months and you will not be able to work during this time. Luckily, they offer assistance with living while you wait for your application to be processed and a lawyer to help you with your claim. They offer English classes and answer many questions associated with asylum seekers. The offices for assistance can be found here.
You’ll go through a screening process and you’ll have to go to meetings in regard to your application. For children who are in need of getting away from their family and have no place to go, the UK allows children to apply even without an adult to accompany them. The hard part about this is, you will not be given any assistance with traveling to the UK. If you make it to the border, you can tell the officers that you are seeking asylum and they will take your application and screen you.
What else should I know?
There are many countries that provide asylum, some are better and some are worse. It’s important to contact the help centers mentioned above for all of your options. You should map out a plan and execute it precisely the first time so nothing gets delayed.
Nothing is promised and while it’s healthy to have hope, it’s important to never depend solely on another person, organization or country to absolutely assist you in all that you need. This process is physically and emotionally draining. Take help when it’s offered but be prepared to work hard. You are worth it.
Other Helpful Links: