Asylum is legal protection awarded to foreign citizens already in the U.S. or arriving at the border who meet the refugee definition by International law. According to the United Nations, 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, a refugee is a person who can't or is unwilling to return to their country of nationality, and can't get protection in that country because of past persecution or they have a reasonable fear of persecution in the future because of their religion, nationality, race, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
As a signatory to the 1967 Protocol, and through United States immigration law, the United States is legally obligated to offer protection to persons who qualify as refugees. The Refugee Act establishes two paths to get refugee status—either in the United States as an asylum seeker or from abroad as a resettled refugee.
How Does Asylum Help Individuals Fleeing Persecution?
A person who is granted asylum or an asylee—is protected from being returned to their countries of origin, is allowed to work in the United States, may request permission to travel overseas, may apply for a Social Security card, and can file a petition to bring family members to the United States. People granted asylum in America are also eligible for certain government programs, such as Refugee Medical Assistance or Medicaid.
After a one-year deadline, an asylee can apply for lawful permanent residence status through a green card. Once the foreign national becomes a permanent resident, they must wait four years to apply for United States citizenship.
Eligibility for asylum has two simple requirements. First, asylum seekers must establish that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of birth. Second, asylum applicants must prove that they would be persecuted in their home country on account of at least one of five protected grounds: religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or particular social group.
What Is the Asylum Application Process in the United States?
There are two primary ways through which an individual can apply for asylum in the United States. These are the defensive process and affirmative process.
Affirmative Asylum Process
An individual who isn't in deportation proceedings can affirmatively apply for asylum in the United States through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the asylum officer at USCIS doesn't grant your asylum application and you don't have lawful immigration status, your initial application is referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings, where you can renew your request for asylum via the defensive process and you must appear before an immigration judge.
Defensive Asylum Process
A person who is facing deportation proceedings may apply for defensive asylum by filing their application with an immigration court judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in the Department of Justice.
This means that an asylum application is applied for as a defense against removal proceedings from the United States. Unlike the criminal court system, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) doesn't offer appointed legal counsel for persons in immigration court hearings, even if they can't afford a New York immigration attorney on their own.
Both asylum application processes require asylum seekers to be physically present in the U.S. With or without legal counsel, asylum seekers must prove that they meet the definition of a refugee. Often, asylum seekers provide substantial evidence throughout the defensive and affirmative processes by proving either past persecution or that they have a credible fear of future persecution in their country of birth. However, a person’s own testimony is normally crucial to their asylum determination.
Certain factors can disqualify individuals from the asylum process. With limited exceptions, persons who don't apply for asylum within one year of entering the U.S. are inadmissible from receiving asylum. Similarly, asylum applicants who are a danger to national security are barred from asylum.
Who Is Eligible For Asylum In The United States?
Under United States asylum law, asylum may be awarded to foreign nationals who can prove they have a well-founded fear of persecution if they're forced to return to their country of nationality or last habitual residence. The fear of persecution must be based on race, political opinion, nationality, religion, or membership of a certain social group.
At The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, our skilled New York asylum attorneys have successfully helped our clients from various countries get asylum in the United States. Our immigration law firm is committed to helping people escape persecution in their country of birth by helping them secure a safe haven in the United States.
Asylum can be granted to those who are just arriving in the United States or to individuals who are already physically present in the country. Those arriving in the United States may ask for asylum at ports of entry. However, persons already in the country must file their Withholding of Removal and Application for Asylum with the Bureau of USCIS within one year of their arrival. This one-year filing deadline may be excused if the foreign national can prove changes or exceptional circumstances.
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What Do You Need To Succeed In The Asylum Process In The United States?
To be eligible for a grant of asylum, a person must provide sufficient evidence to prove they have been persecuted in the past or they're at risk of persecution if they were forced to return to their country of origin. The evidence considered in an asylum case is an individual's own testimony and any corroborative evidence supporting their testimony. If credible, your testimony alone could be enough to satisfy all elements of your asylum claim. However, corroborative evidence, when available, can significantly help asylum adjudications in making favorable decisions.
TYpes of corroborative evidence that can support an asylum claim include police reports, medical certificates, arrest records, academic records, court summons, proof of membership in an organization, statements from persons who have personal knowledge concerning the claim, and background country conditions materials such as expert witness testimony when needed.
A skilled Brooklyn immigration lawyer who understands how to properly prepare, file, and presents an asylum claim can substantially increase your chances of being granted asylum status by the United States Government. Our New York City immigration team has a very successful track record of helping countless clients qualify for asylum in the United States.
Our immigration law firm strives to offer impeccable legal help to asylum seekers by helping them prepare their asylum applications, analyze, and submit the requisite corroborative evidence. Our legal team will prepare you to testify in support of your asylum application, and we'll represent you from the initial interview through the conclusion of removal proceedings.
What Happens to Asylum Applicants While Their Asylum Application Is Being Processed?
Asylum applicants include some of the most vulnerable populations of society—single mothers, children, victims of torture or domestic violence, and other persons who have suffered trauma and persecution. While United States immigration law allows arriving asylum to remain in the country while their claim for refugee protection is pending, the United States government argues that it can detain such persons instead of releasing them into the community.
Some immigration courts have rejected this argument and held that asylum seekers meeting certain requirements qualify for bond hearings. Immigration attorneys have challenged the practice of detaining asylum seekers without offering them a meaningful opportunity to seek parole, such as class-action suits that document the prolonged detention—sometimes lasting years—of persons with "well-founded fear" awaiting adjudication of their asylum claim.
Detention worsens the challenges asylum applicants already face and can negatively affect a person’s asylum application. Families and minor children who are detained may suffer physical and mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and frequent infections.
Studies show that detained persons in deportation proceedings are five times less likely to secure legal help than those out of detention. This disparity can substantially affect a person's case, as those with legal representation are more likely to apply for legal protection in the first place and successfully get the relief sought.
We invite you to contact our New York City immigration law firm today at 516-494-7373, to discuss your asylum application and any other immigration issues you may have.