Number of Russian citizens applying for refugee status in the United States reaches a record high

The number of asylum applications by Russian citizens in the United States hit a 24-year high in 2017, jumping nearly 40 percent from the previous year, as reported by Radio Liberty. Applications have been increasing since the return of Vladimir Putin to power in Russia in 2012.

The US government received 2,664 new asylum applications from Russian nationals in fiscal year 2017 ending on September 30, which was a 39-percent increase compared to 2016. The 2017 figure is more than double the number of first-time applications by Russians since 2012. It also eclipsed the previous high set in 1994 when 2,127 Russian asylum seekers applied for the first time.

Human rights activists and immigration attorneys say the surge in the number of Russian asylum applications in the United States has been driven in part by the 2013 law concerning sexual minorities, which banned "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors.

Successful applicants must demonstrate "persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

  Refugees, Russia, USA