Lesson Plan: The Asylum Application Process in the United States

Laws Relating to Asylum and Refugee Status

Georgetown Law professor discussed the different laws relating to people seeking asylum and refugees.


Under U.S. law, people seeking protection from violence or persecution in their home country can apply for asylum in the United States. This lesson explores the process in which people apply for asylum, the standard for obtaining asylum, and the bureaucratic issues with processing asylum applications.



    As a class or individually, view each of the following videos on the background of the asylum process. Answer the questions associated with each video clip or use the notetaking chart on the handout.

    Handout: The Asylum Application Process in the United States (Google Doc)

  • VIDEO CLIP: U.S. Laws Relating to Asylum and Refugee Status (1:35)

    • Explain what the Refugee Act did to protect people from persecution.
    • What were the reasons for the treaty in the 1970s and the Refugee Act?
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Standard for Asylum Seekers (1:29)

    • What is included under a "well-founded fear of persecution?"
    • What is the standard of proof that has to be met when seeking asylum?

    As a class or individually, view each of the following video clips about the process of applying for asylum. Answer the questions associated with each video clip.

  • VIDEO CLIP: The Asylum-Seeking Process (4:58)

    • What do asylum-seekers have to do when they first arrive in the United States?
    • What type of proof must asylum-seekers provide?
    • Explain the safeguards that the government provides to ensure that the people coming in are not going to cause harm.
    • How are children involved in the asylum process?
    • Why does Professor Schrag say that "this would be the last method of entry a terrorist would choose?"
    • What are the possible results of this process?
    • In what situations are asylum-seekers detained?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Types of Asylum and The Immigration Court System (2:14)

    • Describe the different types of asylum.
    • For those migrants at the border, what is the process for seeking asylum?
    • What are potential problems with this process?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Where do Asylum Seekers Come From? (1:48)

    • Describe the make-up of the people being granted asylum in the United States.
    • What are the reasons for people seeking asylum?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Fraud and Abuse in the Asylum Process (3:26)

    • What does Attorney General Jeff Sessions mean when he talks about loopholes in immigration laws?
    • How is the asylum-seeking process subject to "rampant abuse and fraud?"
    • How is the current asylum-seeking process a burden on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security?
  • APPLICATION: Either as a class or as an individual written response, answer the following prompt:

    • Should the United States reform the process in which people are granted asylum?

    Defining a "well-founded fear of persecution"- Come up with your definition of what a "well-founded fear of persecution" means. Develop a list of situations that might be included in your definition.

    Additional Prompts-

    • Why might it be difficult for asylum-seekers to provide documented proof of persecution in a foreign country?
    • How should the United States address people coming to the United States seeking asylum?

Additional Resources


  • Appeals
  • Asylum
  • Boston Marathon Bombing
  • Claims
  • Congressional Intent
  • Credible Fear
  • Credible Information
  • Department Of Homeland Security
  • Deportation
  • Derivative Applicants
  • Detained
  • Expedited Removal
  • Gang
  • Gender Violence
  • Immigration
  • Refugee
  • Refugees
  • Repressive
  • Resettlement
  • Standard Of Proof
  • State Department




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