Asylum

what is asylum?

Asylum is a form of humanitarian relief; it is an immigration status given to certain foreign nationals who can show that they have suffered persecution in their home country. Though the term “persecution” is not explicitly defined in the law, an asylum case usually requires evidence that the individual’s life or freedom is in jeopardy because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Applications for asylum are very difficult to win and often require the help of an experienced immigration attorney or non-profit organization.  

how do i apply for asylum?

Generally all foreign nationals can apply for asylum regardless of immigration status. If you’re not in deportation proceedings or removal proceedings and you wish to apply for asylum, you must file your asylum with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). This is called an affirmative asylum application. You must be physically in the U.S. to file an affirmative asylum application and file within 1 year of the date of your last arrival. But, becoming an asylee is not this easy; an asylum case usually requires evidence that the individual’s life or freedom is in jeopardy because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  There must be a “reasonable probability” of persecution in your home country and evidence to this end must be presented. You may be ineligible if the government can show that you have safely lived in another country after fleeing your home country and residing in the U.S., and for other reasons. Once your application has been received, you will be fingerprinted and have your identity run through a background security check.

Eventually, you will have to attend an interview with an asylum officer who will decide if you should become an asylee. You may bring an attorney with you to this interview. If a family member is seeking asylum along with you, they will likely be required to attend the interview as well.  Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about asylum and whether you qualify.

what if the 1-year deadline has passed?

There is a circumstance under which you can still apply for asylum even if it is not timely. You must show:

  • There are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing; and
  •  You filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.

 

what would make me ineligible for asylum?

 According to USCIS policy, you are not eligible for asylum if you:

  • Did not follow the one year filing deadline (and you can’t otherwise prove changed circumstances materially affecting your eligibility related to the delay in filing and that you filed within a reaosnable amoutn of time given those circumstances);
  • Had a previous asylum applicaiton denied by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), or
  • Can be removed to a safe third country under a two-party or multi-party agreement between the U.S. and other countries.

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