What is asylumconnect?

AsylumConnect is a fiscally sponsored nonprofit creating the first ever website and mobile app to feature an online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. The AsylumConnect catalog helps persecuted LGBTQ people identify and access verified human needs resources upon their arrival in the U.S. Catalog v3.0 is currently live for: Seattle, WA and Philadelphia, PA. 

Our long-term vision remains to scale the AsylumConnect catalog to all major U.S. cities and ultimately, streamline the safe integration of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. 

"A quick guide to AsylumConnect" infographic. (Updated: March 2017.)

our progress so far

Read our 2015-2016 Annual Report +

Report published: September 13, 2016.

Read about our Seattle pilot of the AsylumConnect Catalog +

Report published: November 6, 2016.

our core values

What We value at AsylumConnect +

In September 2016, our team officially set AsylumConnect's core values. The following seven values reflect what we care most about at AsylumConnect.

  1. Be accountable
  2. Scale responsibly
  3. Build for sustainability
  4. Take the initiative
  5. Do no harm
  6. Default to open
  7. Ask and listen


it started on a bench... +

AsylumConnect co-founders Sayid and Katie met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Both transfer students looking for a sense of community, they joined the same service fraternity and quickly formed a strong friendship.

That summer they both moved to New York City to pursue internships. On a hot July day, the two rising Penn seniors sat together on one of the only vacant benches in Central Park. Temporarily removed from the weight of their work obligations, they had their first conversation about AsylumConnect. As Sayid shared his personal experiences seeking LGBTQ asylum in the U.S. and explained the struggles that LGBTQ people continue to face on a global scale, Katie realized that she had failed to speak out about her own identity in a country where she at least had that choice. Finding strength in each other, the two friends joined their collective experiences to co-found AsylumConnect.

Returning to Penn in the fall, their extensive research uncovered a sobering reality. It is still illegal to be gay in at least 73 countries. LGBTQ people in these countries are imprisoned and subjected to "corrective action," including rape by government officials and public humilation. In 10 countries, homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty. As a result, thousands of LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers come to the U.S. every year fleeing persecution in their home countries based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yet upon arrival in the U.S., many do not know where to go for food, shelter, medical aid, social support, legal assistance to file their asylum application, etc. It is not a lack of access to technology that hinders their adjustment; rather, it is that there is no user-friendly, online database to point them towards the lifesaving resources able to serve LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S.

AsylumConnect strives to rectify this situation through providing the first online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. In doing so, AsylumConnect hopes to assist LGBTQ asylum seekers in identifying and accessing local lifesaving resources.

Sayid and Katie firmly believe in AsylumConnect’s potential to transform the trajectory of this movement. By unfolding and changing the stories of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S., this initiative is fighting to give them the dignity and fundamental human right to live authentically.