In general, individuals must be physically present in the United States or at a U.S. port of entry to apply for asylum. Upon arrival, individuals can express fear of persecution to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers or request asylum during immigration proceedings. They are then referred to an asylum officer for a credible fear interview and may proceed with the asylum application process if they establish a credible fear of persecution.

Crossing the Border without Authorization (Irregular Migration)

In recent years, there has been increased attention on asylum seekers arriving in the United States who have crossed the border without authorization, often referred to as irregular migration or undocumented migration. These individuals may present themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry or may cross the border between official ports of entry and subsequently seek asylum by presenting themselves to an immigration officer.

Arriving on a Visa and Applying for Asylum (Regular Migration)

Less discussed is the large number of asylum seekers who arrive in the United States on various types of visas, such as tourist visas, student visas, or work visas, and subsequently apply for asylum after entering the country legally. These individuals may choose to apply for asylum due to changed circumstances or fear of persecution that arises after their arrival in the United States.

It's important to note that the proportion of asylum seekers who arrive on a visa versus those who cross the border without authorization can fluctuate over time and may be influenced by factors such as changes in immigration policies, geopolitical events, economic conditions, and patterns of migration flows from different regions of the world.

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