What Country Should You Flee to? Citizenship Info for US Asylum Seekers

After a month of being held hostage in the Moscow airport, U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has finally been granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia. Still, the future is always uncertain for high-profile asylum seekers like Snowden. Whether he ends up staying in Russia for the full year, if it turns out that Snowden can’t stick to Putin’s terms, or if the cold Russian winters simply just aren’t his thing, you might be wondering: what are his options? If you were an American on the run, where would you go? Despite the fact that you’d have just been charged with a criminal offense, it may not be the end of the world. In fact, certain parts of the world may still be open to you—though some maybe more than others.

Our handy infographic guide to seeking asylum in different countries below can help you answer just this question. You can go take a short trip down south to Cuba or Ecuador or traverse the globe to Russia or Hong Kong. Some things to consider when scouting out a new potential home: climate and weather conditions, natural disasters, the geographic and built environment, traffic, crime rates, the local cuisine, culture, language, and lifestyle, population, cost of living, economic, societal and political conditions, and the availability of healthcare and basic amenities. It’s all subjective, of course—if you can stomach dictatorship but not rice, you’re probably better off in Cuba rather than Madagascar, and if you want to head to a country like France or Switzerland, you’d best start scraping together your pennies.

But even if you think you’ve found the perfect refuge, don’t get too attached just yet: some countries have a fairly extensive asylum process, so no guarantees once you’re there that you won’t be extradited in future. And you might be more welcome in certain countries, depending on the status of the country’s treaty with the U.S. on the matter or the local culture (note: Iran does not have the best of relations with Americans).

Our infographic also lets you know whose footsteps you may be following. Depending on where you end up, you may be in the company of anyone from French movie stars and Oscar-winning film directors, to computer hackers, chess masters, and criminals of all stripes.

What Country to Flee to