What is Asylum?
Under United States Immigration law, individuals who have suffered persecution or who have reasonable fear of future persecution because of their religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group may be eligible to apply for asylum.
Individuals who want to apply for asylum must be physically present inside the United States at the time of application. They must also be able to demonstrate past persecution or show well-founded fear of persecution in the future in their country of origin because of their religion, race, membership in a particular social group, nationality, or political opinion.
Recognized “social groups” include gays and lesbians, families, women facing domestic violence or inability to practice fundamental rights, women facing female genital mutilation (FGM), clans, tribes, and others.
To qualify the individual for asylee status, the persecution must be perpetrated by the origin country’s government or by an entity that the government is unable or unwilling to control. If the individual is able to relocate within the country of origin or was firmly resettled in another country, they may not be eligible for asylum in the United States. Asylum is considered a discretionary relief, which may be affected by the adjudicator considering negative factors such as potential immigration or criminal law violations.
What is the difference between applying for asylum and being a refugee?
To apply for asylum, you must be physically present inside the United States at the time of application.
Refugee status is usually granted to individuals outside the U.S. who are fleeing dangerous conditions in their country of origin and are applying for U.S. entry through a United States Embassy or the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
You have to heavily document your asylum case. Asylum is subject to the REAL ID ACT meaning that you should submit any evidence in your possession (or you can easily obtain) that corroborates your claim for asylum. Working with an experienced Orange County asylum attorney can tremendously increase your chances of being granted asylum. An asylum attorney would know what evidence and supporting documentation to submit to build your asylum case.
Who may apply?
Any person in the United States, regardless of legal status, may apply for asylum so long as the request is within one year from the last entry to the United States. If you wait more than one year to apply, you must qualify for an exception. There are two main exceptions to the one-year deadline rule: 1) Extraordinary circumstances; 2) Changed circumstances. The extraordinary circumstances are things like a medical or physiological condition that prevented you from applying in time. Changed circumstances can be either to your individual case or to your country of origin’s conditions. Consult us today for FREE to see if you eligible to apply.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for asylum?
Generally speaking, anyone is entitled to represent himself. However, working with an asylum lawyer is well worth the money you are going to spend. A 2011 report on representation in NY and NJ showed that and individual was five times more likely to win relief with a lawyer than without. Another study identified counsel as the single biggest factor affecting the outcome of an asylum case.
What are the chances of me winning asylum?
Each case is different. The asylum office evaluates many different factors in each case, including the applicant’s country conditions, how they entered the country, and whether or not they are credible. That said, having an attorney to guide you through the process can greatly improves your chances of winning asylum.
In asylum law, credibility and corroboration are everything and your asylum application and declaration must be carefully crafted to ensure there is a “nexus” or connection between the persecution you faced or will face and the five protected groups (race, religion, nationality, political opinion and membership in a particular social group.)
When will my interview be scheduled?
As of 2018, the asylum office is scheduling cases for an interview within 30 to 45 days. When your interview is scheduled, it will take place at one of eight asylum offices (although asylum officers sometimes travel outside of these locations and perform interviews at USCIS offices).
To determine where your interview will take place based on where you live, click here.
What questions will they ask me at the interview?
Asylum interviews generally last several hours and even longer depending on how many family members are included in the application. The interview begins with taking an oath regarding truthful testimony, and begins with reviewing your I-589 for accuracy. Then the asylum officer will go through your declaration and ask you questions regarding your asylum claim.
To learn more about the interview questions, click here.
It is important that you spend a lot of time preparing for your interview. An effective asylum lawyer will schedule a “mock interview” and ask you anticipated questions, as well as explain weak aspects of your case. At the end of the interview, your asylum lawyer can ask follow up questions to clarify some aspects of your case or answers that could hurt your case that you provided in response to the asylum officer questions. Your asylum lawyer should also provide a closing statement summarizing your eligibility for asylum to the asylum officer.
Find an Interpreter
You must provide an interpreter if you are not fluent in English. The asylum office will not provide you with one. They will however have another interrupter on the phone to ensure quality of the translation.
When will I receive the results of the interview?
After the interview, asylum officers will ask you either to come back to the asylum office to pick up the decision or to expect it to be mailed to your address of record. The process can take anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on factors like background checks and whether the asylum officer had the time to review the application and issue a decision.
What are the possible outcomes to my asylum case?
There are several possible outcomes to your asylum case:
- Final approval: this is the best result you can get and it means that you were granted asylum.
- Recommended approval: this is also good news and it means that your asylum case was granted but there are some issues that are preventing the asylum office from issuing a final approval; usually a background check.
- Denial: you will get a NOID (notice of intent to deny) if you are still in lawful underlying status (meaning that you are still on a valid visa such as F1, B1/B2 … etc) and your case was denied by the asylum office.
- Referral: you will get a referral notice to appear in immigration court if you are not in a valid underlying status and your case was denied by the asylum office. You will have the chance to apply again in front of an immigration judge.
Call (714) 729-3303 for a FREE assessment of your asylum case.