PORTLAND, Ore. – The Iranian woman with a valid visa who was detained before she was able to visit her sister in Portland is officially seeking asylum in the United States.

Background: Iranian woman denied entry to U.S.; family is heartbroken

Alia Ghandi has filed a credible fear claim with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to Jaime Ruiz, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Ghandi is claiming she is afraid of persecution or torture if she returns to her native country of Iran. Ghandi’s family previously told KGW she is afraid of the repercussions she could face in Iran because she was jailed in the United States.

She is now waiting for USCIS to make a determination in her case. Ruiz said the process can take weeks or months and about half of asylum requests are denied. 

"It’s a risky procedure for the traveler because if the petition is denied there may be adverse consequences," he said. 

Ghandi remains in custody at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Ruiz said Ghandi was not detained because of President Trump’s travel ban. Due to a privacy act, he was unable to tell KGW why Ghandi was denied entry into the United States.