The asylum attorneys at Heartland Immigration can help you if you are in the U.S. and are afraid to return to your country because of likely persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. As a fundamental matter of human rights, you should not be subjected to cruel or inhumane treatment. Heartland Immigration is committed to helping people in the United States assert their rights so that they are not sent to a country where this might happen. Our asylum lawyers will guide you through the complex process of applying for and gaining US asylum status, supporting you at each and every step along the way.
Who can apply for asylum?
You may be eligible to apply for asylum if you:
- Are in the United States, but have been so for less than one year;
- Are not subject to one of the bars to a grant of asylum; and
- Qualify as a refugee who is unable or unwilling to return your country of nationality (or last habitual residence in the case of a person having no nationality), because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of: (i) Race; (ii) Religion; (iii) Nationality; (iv) Membership in a particular social group; or (v) Political opinion
You must establish that one of the five categories listed immediately above was or will be at least one central reason for your persecution or is at least one central reason for why you fear persecution.
How does the asylum process work?
A person can apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for asylum in the US affirmatively, meaning the person is not in deportation proceedings, or defensively as part of a deportation proceeding. Either way, to apply for asylum, a person must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal .
When a person applies for asylum affirmatively they will first receive from USCIS a notice saying the application was received, and will then receive a letter telling them to report to an Application Support Center for fingerprinting. The next step is an interview with an asylum officer at a USCIS field office or asylum office. These generally last about an hour, and consist of the asylum officer asking you about your claim of fear of persecution in the event that you should be returned to your country. You can bring an attorney with you, along with witnesses to support your claims. If you do not speak English, you should bring an interpreter. Applicants normally return to the site of the interview to pick up a written decision on their asylum claim, usually within two weeks of the interview. The decision of the asylum officer cannot be appealed.
Alternatively, a person can apply for asylum during deportation proceedings in immigration court as a defense to deportation. In this situation the immigration judge rules on your eligibility. If you are found eligible for asylum, you will not be deported. An adverse decision by the immigration judge on a request for asylum can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
What happens after I am granted asylum?
If you are granted asylum you can begin working immediately in the U.S. You technically do not need any particular authorization, but some find it more convenient to have an employment authorization document, which is obtained by filing
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization , with USCIS. You can also petition, normally within two years of being granted asylum, to bring your spouse and unmarried children who are under age 21 to the United States by filing with
I-730, Refugee / Asylee Relative Petition . Finally, you can apply for a green card one year after being granted asylee status. This will allow you to live and work permanently in the United States.
To apply for a green card as an aylee you must file
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status with USCIS .
Should I apply for asylum?
If you are in deportation proceedings and you believe you might be eligible for asylum you should definitely apply.
If you are not in deportation proceedings, however, the answer is not as clear. There can be a huge downside to applying for asylum affirmatively
if something in your history makes you deportable. If you are deportable and you apply for asylum but are not granted asylum, it is likely you will in fact be placed in deportation proceedings. You should carefully consider before applying for asylum whether you may be a candidate for deportation. Many people who believe they may be and who are unsure whether they will qualify for asylum decide not to apply for asylum affirmatively, opting not to bring themselves to the attention of the immigration authorities.
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