An alien who is granted asylum takes on the legal status of “asylee.” This allows him or her to reside in the United States indefinitely as long as the threat of persecution continues.
The asylee can also have his or her spouse and unmarried children under age 21 enter the U.S. if they are not already in the country.
Moreover, an asylee may apply for a refugee travel document or advanced parole for travel out of the U.S. Such a benefit should be obtained prior to leaving the U.S., as the asylee may be denied re-entry into the U.S. An asylee also risks losing his/her status if he/she travels to the county of alleged persecution. Such action could be considered to be voluntarily availing oneself of the protection of an allegedly persecuting country.
Another benefit available to an asylee is employment authorization. An asylum applicant whose application is pending may apply for employment authorization 150 days after a completed Form I-589 application has been filed.
Finally, after a year of asylum, the asylee may petition for an adjustment of status to become a permanent resident. This right also applies to the asylee’s spouse and children, as described above.
Withholding of Removal provides fewer benefits than receiving asylum. The alien is not given any legal status in the U.S. Simply stated, the alien will not be removed to the country of alleged persecution. If the Immigration Court finds that there is another country that can be a safe haven for the alien, the Court could have the alien removed to that country. Also, there is no derivative status for relatives. The sole benefit of Withholding of Removal is that the alien may seek employment authorization, in the same way an asylee can.
(Updated 10/2/2012 by A.G.)
For more information about Asylum and Withholding of Removal, please click on one of the following topics: