A manifestation of the constitutionally mandated protections for residents of the United States for unpopular points of view and minority religious practices is the extension of these protections to citizens of other countries.  In cases where the established policy of a foreign government punishes a citizen of that country for holding political opinions in disagreement with government policy, or for following  religious practices forbidden under the laws of that country, that citizen may be eligible for asylum status in the U.S.  Favorable decisions on asylum applications can even be reached in cases where the foreign government, while not actively opposed to a political viewpoint or religion, is demonstrably unable to protect its citizens from reprisal by others who disagree with minority viewpoints or practices.     Asylum protection can also extend to those who have suffered past persecution so severe that it is unreasonable to return that person to the country where the suffering was inflicted even if there is no expected future harm.  While changes to the regulations require that an application for asylum be submitted within one year of entry into the U.S., the documentation of sufficient changes in circumstances can trigger an exception to this rule.  For the person with a genuine and credible fear of death or persecution in their home country because of religious or political views, an application for asylum can offer the possibility of permanent protection in the U.S.