Immigrants who have fled their home country for fear of persecution or have suffered persecution are in a “life and death” situation. They sought refuge in nations that might provide them with a fresh start, such as the United States.
If you want to petition for asylum in the United States but don’t know where to begin, we can help. Please do not hesitate to consult with our New Jersey immigration attorney.
We have been in law practice for many years, mainly dealing with immigration issues. We provide competent legal services in various practice areas, such as but not limited to:
The most challenging hurdle that anyone will confront in asylum cases is convincing the USCIS that your situation warrants the grant of asylum. You must be able to provide a compelling reason why they should approve your asylum request.
You may be wondering where to start or what documents to provide. Having an immigration attorney on your side will significantly benefit your case.
We understand that asylum is a critical but delicate case, so we want to provide you with competent legal aid. Andres Mejer Law, a New Jersey law office, has focused years of experience on immigration law.
We have assisted clients with immigration matters, such as immigration services (e.g., deferred action) and mounting a criminal defense (e.g., DUI, drug charges).
Now is the time to schedule a free consultation with us!
Asylum is a remedy that allows those who have fled their home country due to well-founded threats or endured persecution to remain and work in the United States lawfully.
One good advantage of getting an asylee status is that you can use it to get a green card (permanent residency) later on.
When granted asylum, you can enjoy various benefits, such as:
- Being authorized to work;
- Obtaining a Social Security Card;
- Getting a Green Card or permanent residency; or
- Requesting Asylum for your family member (e.g., spouse or children).
What is the distinction between seeking asylum and seeking refugee status?
Most of the time, people confuse the two, believing they are similar when they are not. Take note that the location of your application defines the type of status you have.
A refugee is someone who applied outside the United States or their country of nationality or country of residence. While an asylee is someone who is within or near the United States’ borders when they request asylum.
How do you qualify?
To be deemed an asylee, they must be unwilling or unable to return to their home country due to fear of prosecution or having suffered persecution.
What constitutes “Persecution”?
Persecution is a substantial threat to one’s life or liberty. Such can be threats, assault, torture, improper and abusive detention, or the government’s refusal to protect you from such things.
In addition, this threat must be well-founded or widespread. Otherwise, it may be an easier option to migrate to another part of your country to avoid being persecuted.
Moreover, you must demonstrate a genuine fear of being persecuted in the future. You may show proof of being persecuted in the past in your home country or in your last country of residence. Additionally, at least one of the following must be the basis for the persecution:
- Political opinion; or
- Membership in a particular social group.
The burden of establishing that there is a genuine fear of future persecution or that you have suffered persecution is the most challenging aspect of asking for asylum status.
Remember that economic hardship or having crimes against you for random or personal reasons are not grounds for asylee status.
If you are uncertain, have an experienced immigration attorney review and assess your case to give you relevant and efficient solutions and other alternatives, if necessary.
Who is Unable to Seek Asylum Status?
While the U.S. government wants individuals to come to the country and start new lives, they can’t just hand over the key to their doors to anybody. Of course, they must safeguard the general welfare of the citizens. The following persons are not eligible for asylum status:
- Individuals who are a part of the persecution. Such refers to individuals who commanded, incited, helped, or participated in the persecution of another person.
- Individuals who endanger the safety or security of the US. They refer to persons who have been convicted of a “particularly serious crime” and are thus a risk to the American community. Because there is no list of these offenses, identifying the crime would be case-by-case, but one example is “aggravated felonies.”
- Individuals who have resettled. This category includes people who have permanently relocated to another nation, demonstrated by permanent residency, citizenship, or permanent relocation in a country other than the one from which they are seeking asylum.
- Individuals who did not meet the one-year limit. Those seeking asylum must apply within one year upon entering the United States. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, the validity of which is determined by the USCIS.
- Individuals whose circumstances in their home nation have changed. If the USCIS determines that your home nation’s condition (the country you left from) has fundamentally changed (e.g., the cause for your fear of persecution is gone), your application will most likely be refused.
How does one seek asylum?
There are two methods for a person to acquire asylum: the affirmative process or a defensive process.
Affirmative Asylum Process
This process applies to anyone physically present in the United States, regardless of how they came or their current immigration status.
Step 1: Applying for Asylum
To begin your asylum application, you must submit Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal). Filling out the form accurately and truthfully is critical since decisions by an Asylum Officer will be substantially reliant on what you submitted.
Avoid giving inconsistent answers as much as possible. What you say in the interview should not differ from what you mention in the form.
Furthermore, you must provide a statement or letter with your application stating why you are seeking asylum. Provide as much information about your condition as possible. In this manner, the Asylum Officer will completely comprehend the gravity of your situation.
When the USCIS receives your asylum application, you will get an acknowledgment of receipt and a notice to appear at your nearest application support center (ASC) for fingerprinting.
Step 2: Taking your Fingerprints and Background/Security Checks
Upon receiving the notice for biometrics, you must prepare yourself to go to the nearest ASC. The notification will include the date, time, and place of the biometric appointment. They will require your fingerprints, photos, and signature.
Step 3: Attending the Interview
They will notify you of an appointment for an interview with an Asylum Officer. The notice will include information about the interview, such as the date and place.
Take note that the interview has a scheduling system based on priorities:
- First priority goes to persons whose applications were rescheduled at the request of the applicant or due to the USCIS.
- Second priority is those individuals whose applications have been waiting for 21 days or less since filing.
- Third priority goes to those individuals with pending affirmative asylum applications. Interviews are arranged, beginning with newer submissions and moving backward.
You are permitted to bring your immigration lawyer and, if necessary, an interpreter to the interview. You are also allowed to present a witness to support your case. In most situations, the interview will last around an hour, depending on the circumstances.
Additionally, you must provide an I.D. and any papers you have attached to your application form or any additional items that substantiate your claim that you have not previously included with your application.
Step 4: Awaiting a Decision
An Asylum Officer will analyze and decide on your asylum case, which a Supervisory Asylum Officer will review. Once there is a decision, you will be notified within two weeks of your interview.
Take note, however, that decisions may be delayed in some cases. In such cases, the USCIS will mail its decision to you.
If you want to check your case status, you can do it online through the USCIS’ Case Status site.
Defensive Asylum Process
If you are facing removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), you can use asylum as a defense. The following are cases when a defensive asylum process occurs:
- You are placed in removal proceedings because of the following:
- You violated your immigration status or were caught entering the US at a port of entry without proper legal documents;
- You were apprehended by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trying to enter the country without proper documentation, was placed under an expedited removal process, and was determined to have a credible fear of getting persecuted or tortured by an asylum officer.
- USCIS refers you to an immigration court after you are determined ineligible for asylum at the end of the affirmative asylum process.
This procedure will be similar to an immigration court proceedings in which applicants must present their case in front of a judge. The court will then listen to arguments from you (or an asylum lawyer) and the U.S. government (represented by a lawyer from ICE).
Applying for asylum can be daunting, and you may have to overcome several obstacles. You may also experience anxiety or depression due to the possibility of being deported back to your home country should your application be denied.
To help you out of such cases, our New Jersey immigration lawyers are here to assist you. Their fervor quest to assist people like you and their years of expertise demonstrates that they are here to give you quality legal aid.