Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Attorney General may grant asylum to an alien who qualifies as a refugee.  This requires that the asylum applicant demonstrate an inability to return to his or her home country because of past persecution or a legitimate fear of future persecution based on his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

An alien may be ineligible for asylum under certain circumstances, including having failed to file an asylum application within an alien's first year of arrival in the United States, being convicted of an aggravated felony, or having been found to be a danger to national security. Similar forms of relief are Withholding of Removal and applications under the U.N. Convention against Torture (CAT).