Individuals who are in the U.S. and are afraid to return to their home country out of fear of persecution may apply for asylum to stay in the United States. There must be well-founded fear of persecution on account of a protected ground, which includes race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The application process requires an interview with an immigration officer and often requires several hearings before an Immigration Court judge. The applicant may apply for permanent residency in the United States one year after being granted asylum status. The applicant’s spouse and minor children may also be included in the application.