What is Asylum?
Asylum is a concept where citizens persecuted by their own country of origin, are protected by a different sovereign nation. Subject to certain requirements, the United States allows those who are being persecuted by their own county to seek protection by allowing those persecuted to stay inside the U.S. and eventually become a lawful permanent resident. If you are in fear of your
livelihood because you are being persecuted based on your race, religion, nationality, or political opinion, we at SD IMMIGRATION FIRM are committed to helping you seek asylum inside the United States.
How does someone get granted asylum in the United States?
If you have fled your home county and you are afraid to go back you may qualify for asylum status within the U.S. We at SD IMMIGRATION FIRM can help you take the necessary steps to find a new home in the U.S.
Generally there are three requirements to be granted asylum in the United States.
First, you must be physically present inside the United States. If you are outside the United States, you must apply to be a refugee with the United States Department of state.
Second, you must demonstrate that you are being persecuted on one the five grounds of persecution: 1) race 2) religion 3) nationality 4) political opinion or 5) social group. These grounds are further explained in more detail below.
Third, you must show the government is involved in the persecution or is unable to control the conduct of private actors.
What is Persecution?
Persecution means to punish, injure, oppress, or cause psychological/physical harm. History has presented examples of persecution such as: committing genocide (Armenian genocide by the Turkish government during World War I); imprisoning political dissidents (Iranian imprisonment of those sympathetic to the Shah); making sure that members of a certain religion are denied
political process (Christian or Jewish minorities throughout the middle east often denied benefits of political process).
What do the five grounds of persecution mean
Race: means you are being persecuted based on your ethnic background.
Religion: means you are being persecuted based on your faith. (Example: the massacre of Shiite minority Muslims in Sunni Dominated Muslim countries).
Nationality: means you are being persecuted based on being of a different nationality in an oppressive nation. (Example: a minority group of Kurds oppressed and many killed by the Iraqi regime under President Saddam Hussein).
Political Opinion: means you are being persecuted for having opinions that the government cannot tolerate. For instance, if you have participated in an anti-government protest and advocated for the independence of a particular ethnic group. One example through history would be Iranian nationals who are sympathetic to the Iranian Shah.
Social group: means you are being persecuted for being part of a group the government sees as a threat. Homosexuals and those victim of gender discrimination have been recognized by the U.S. to fall in this category. An example would be homosexual citizens of Iran who are executed based on their sexual orientation.
How do I apply for asylum?
Step One: an asylum seeker is eligible to apply for asylum if he or she is 1) arriving or physically present in the United States and 2) files within one year of arriving in the United States. However, the exceptions of “changed circumstances” or “extraordinary circumstances” may be applicable in your case. Please contact our firm to see if you fit within these exceptions.
Step Two: asylum seeker files a form I-589 (application for asylum and for withholding of removal). The form can be fond here http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-589.pdf
Step Three: the applicant is fingerprinted and background security checks are conducted.
Step Four: the applicant will receive an interview notice usually, 21 days after the applicant submitted a complete form I-589.
Step Five: the applicant is interviewed at one of eight asylum offices in the U.S. (Arlington, VA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ; New York, New York; San Francisco, CA).
Step Six: an Asylum officer makes an eligibility determination and a supervisor reviews his or her decision.
Step Seven: applicant receives decision.
What is the fee to apply for asylum?
There is no fee to apply for asylum.
How long does the process take?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides in Section 208(d)(5) that the initial interview on asylum applications should take place within 45 days after the date the application is filed, and a decision should be made within 180 days after the date the application is filed, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Can I bring my family?
Yes, subject to certain requirements. You must list your spouse and children on your form I-589. You may ask to have your spouse and your children included in your asylum decision. Your spouse and children must be physically present inside the United States. Also, your children must be unmarried and under the age of 21.
Can I apply for Asylum if I was convicted of a crime?
Yes, however this depends on the type of crime you were convicted for. If you have been convicted of a particularly serious crime, such as a violent felony, it may result in a denial of your application. It is important to know beforehand if your criminal history will affect your application. The assistance of an attorney is essential. We at SD IMMIGRATION FIRM can help you find out. Our attorneys are experienced in matters concerning criminal law.
Can I travel outside the United States during my application processing?
Generally you should not travel outside the United States while your asylum application is pending as that could indicate you abandoned your application with USCIS. You must receive advance permission before leaving the United States during this time. The advanced permission is called “Advanced Parole.”
Can I still apply if I am in the U.S. illegally?
Yes. You can apply regardless of your immigration status. So long as you meet the above stated requirements.
Can anyone help me with my asylum interview?
Of course, we here at SD IMMIGRATION FIRM can help you through every step of the way. Our experienced attorneys can appear with you at your interview and help put you in the best light possible. We also can help you prepare before your interview. The assistance of an attorney is essential to demonstrating your fear of persecution. It shows you are serious about the matter and that you truly are in fear of the consequences if you return to your home country. The interview is non-adversarial, which means the person interviewing you is neutral, and has no preconceived opinions about you. It is your burden to prove to him that you meet the requirements of an asylum seeker. Please call to schedule your free initial consultation!
How will I be interviewed if I do not speak English?
If you don’t speak English, don’t worry. The U.S. government allows for interpreters to accompany you to your interview. Our firm has knowledgeable language interpreters that can help you through every step of this process, from the initial consultation all the way to the interview. Our interpreters speak many common foreign languages such as: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Farsi, Arabic, and many more.