Following the Real ID Act of 2005 and other recent changes, people have to present much more evidence to support applications for political or religious asylum than ever before. Simply put, the federal government’s response to the events of September 11 changed everything regarding how asylum is applied for and granted. If you are seeking asylum in the United States, or a family member is, your attorney will need experience applying a variety of different strategies to be successful. At Hanlon Law Group, P.C., we understand how important it is to investigate the facts and prepare evidence clearly and thoroughly to help you get your request for asylum or temporary protected status approved by the USCIS.
We know what the USCIS is looking for
We know what the USCIS is looking for and we are able to find the most important facts regarding your application. We prepare you for what to expect and we make sure your application is complete, accurate and up to date. In short, we use our experience to present the facts in a way that is most favorable to your case. If you are considering filing for asylum for yourself or a family member, contact us first.
Who can apply for asylum?
Individuals who are in the United States may be granted asylum on a discretionary basis if it is determined that the applicant has suffered past persecution or has a “well-founded fear of persecution” on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion in their country of origin. People seeking asylum must establish their persecution on at least one of these five grounds. Asylum applications must be filed within one year after entry into the United States, with some exceptions being granted for extraordinary circumstances. We can also advise you on the legal requirements for refugee status.
Temporary Protected Status
Anyone whose life or freedom would be threatened in his or her own country on account of one of the five enumerated grounds of asylum is protected from removal under United States and international law. The United States offers Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to individuals from countries that have suffered natural disasters or that are undergoing war or severe civil unrest, forcing the displacement of citizens of that country. Temporary Protected Status is effective as long as the conditions persist in the country in question.
Q: What is asylum?
A: In general, asylum refers to the protection that a government grants to an immigrant who is trying to escape harm in his or her home country (because of, for example, political unrest or potential religious persecution). To be granted asylum in the U.S., immigrants have to officially file a Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Q: Am I eligible for asylum?
A: To be eligible for asylum in the U.S., you have to be:
- Already physically present in the U.S. or arriving to the country via an official port-of-entry
- Filing for asylum within one year of your arrival to the U.S.
- Demonstrate that the circumstances in your country of origin (or your own personal circumstances) have substantially changed if you are attempting to file for asylum after being in the U.S. for longer than one year.
You must also be able to demonstrate that you would suffer from religious, political, racial or other types of persecution if you returned to your country of origin and that there is not another country where you could safely reside.
Q: If I am in the U.S. illegally, will I lose my eligibility to apply for asylum?
A: No – regardless of whether you are in the U.S. legally or illegally, you can still be eligible for asylum. You must, however, meet the above-described requirements when applying. There may be other requirements you have to fulfill as well, so it’s advised that you meet with an experienced lawyer to see if you qualify for asylum.
Q: If I have a criminal record, can I still apply for asylum?
A: You can apply for asylum if you have been convicted of a crime, but whether or not you will be granted asylum will depend on the nature of the crime(s) associated with your conviction(s). Additionally, if you do not disclose your criminal record in your Form I-589 and/or during your asylum interview, you can be seen as committing perjury and, therefore, could immediately lose your opportunity to be granted asylum.
Q: How is the determination made that a person qualifies for asylum?
A: In general, eligibility for asylum is determined by an immigration judge or an asylum officer. These officials typically decide if a person qualifies for asylum by evaluating whether or not that individual meets the definition of a refugee (i.e., someone who cannot return to his or her home country due persecution or the fear of persecution based on his or her race, religion, political views, etc.).
If a person is considered to be a refugee, then the official presiding over the case will then determine whether there may be any factors that could prevent the applicant from being granted asylum. Such bars to asylum could include (but are not limited to):
- Having participated in the persecution of others (based on others’ race, religion, political views, etc.)
- Posing a threat to U.S. security
- Having been convicted of certain crimes (such as violent crimes or certain felony crimes)
- Having a history of living in another country without fear of persecution.
Q: How much does it cost to apply for asylum?
A: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not charge any fees to apply for asylum. However, if you work with a lawyer to expedite your case, you may have some attorneys’ fees.
Q: What should I do to apply for asylum?
A: To get your asylum case started with the USCIS, you need to file a Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal). While you can try to pursue your case on your own, you will have the best chances of being granted asylum if you work with an experienced immigration lawyer like those at the Hanlon Law Group.
The upcoming third part of this blog includes some final asylum FAQs that highlight some additional important information about this sought-after immigration status. Be sure to check it out!
Q: What do I need to bring to my interview for my asylum case?
A: In terms of people, you will need to bring an interpreter to your asylum interview if you are not fluent in English. You will also be required to bring any children or other dependents who are associated with your case and are younger than 21 years old. Additionally, you have the right to bring your attorney with you – and you should do so to ensure that your asylum interview proceeds as smoothly as possible.
In terms of paperwork, you should bring:
- An ID, such as a passport or another legally valid form of travel documentation
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate (if you are married)
- Copies of your Form I-589 and the supporting documents that have been filed with the USCIS
- Additional paperwork critical to your case (this can include documents related to your criminal record, your history of persecution in your home country, etc.).
Q: How will the decision be made?
A: In general, during an asylum interview, you will be required to take an oath (attesting that you are telling the truth under the penalty of perjury). Then, the officer overseeing your case will ask you various questions, such as questions about:
- Your identity
- The reasons you are applying for asylum
- The specific experiences you have had being persecuted in your country of origin
- Whether you know of any reasons that you may be barred from asylum in the U.S.
Everything you discuss in this interview will be confidential.
Q: How long will it take to find out whether I have been granted asylum?
A: A decision regarding your case will not be made immediately after the interview. Instead, you generally have to go back to the location where you interview was held 2 weeks after the date of the interview to find out the decision in your case. It can take longer in some cases for decisions to be handed down, and there may be circumstances in which the decision in your case is mailed to your home (instead of you having to come retrieve it).
Los Angeles, California Immigration Lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
If you are ready to apply for asylum or need help with other immigration matters, you can trust your case to the Los Angeles immigration attorneys at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. For more than 15 years, our lawyers have been successfully representing clients in various types of immigration cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation.
Our firm offers state-of-the art technology to deliver these services efficiently while also providing each of our clients with old-fashioned personal service. That means you can count on your case progressing as quickly as possible while feeling confident that your Hanlon Law Group lawyer will answer your questions quickly, clearly and honestly.
Contact Us for a Professional Case Evaluation
To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys today by calling (626) 765-4641 or (866) 489-7612 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen.
From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.
We offer free, confidential initial consultations to provide potential clients with expert advice regarding their immigration law needs. Additionally, we are able to provide immigration legal services in various languages, including in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesian, Tagalog and Fukienese.