How can you request asylum in the United States?

Foreign citizens have different paths to regularize their immigration status in the United States. Political asylum is one of them and it is a highly demanded process that if approved, provides a path to permanent residence and later on, US citizenship.

Now, what requirements must a person meet to receive political asylum? Who qualifies? What are the benefits? The principle is that in order for a person to obtain political asylum, they must suffer persecution because of race, nationality, political position, religion or for being a member of a specific social group, for example, being part of the LGBT Community. Such persecution has to be proven for the process to be accepted.

Generally speaking, winning a case of political asylum is not a simple task, so it is necessary to seek legal advice to increase your chances of success. The most advisable thing is that if you do not have a real case of asylum, you should look for other options that can guarantee your legal stay in the United States.

How can you get asylum in the United States? 

There are two ways to obtain asylum: Affirmative Asylum Process and Defense Asylum Process.

Affirmative Asylum Process 

To benefit from the AAP, the asylum seeker needs to be present in the United States. The request must be made within one year of his entering into the country. This application is formalized before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with Form I-589

According to the USCIS website, if the asylum case is denied and the person does not have legal status in the United States, USCIS will transfer the case on to an immigration judge, who will be responsible for making the decision to open a deportation process.

Applicants may be in the United States during the process with USCIS. If the asylum seeker is found “ineligible”, the applicant may be allowed to stay in the country while the process is open before the immigration court. It is important to keep in mind that most asylum seekers are not authorized to work in the United States.


Defense Asylum Process

The second process is called the Defense Asylum Process, for which it is necessary for the person to be in removal proceedings before an immigration court.

These cases are taken by immigration judges in a confrontational style (typical in common law jurisdictions), so the two parts are heard: the applicant and his lawyer, and a representative of the United States government.

It will be the immigration judge who decides whether or not the asylum seeker is eligible. Depending on the decision, these are the possible scenarios: either he is eligible and obtains political asylum, or he is deemed ineligible. The judge then checks whether the applicant has any other basis that could allow him to avoid removal. In case the asylum seeker is ineligible, it will be the judge who will make the decision to deport him/her from the United States.

How can you benefit from obtaining asylum?

Asylum can help you to work in the United States  is one of the main benefits of obtaining political asylum, even if the person does not yet have an EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

Another benefit is the possibility of getting a Social Security Card that is granted to people once they are accepted. This card would not have any restrictions.

There is the possibility to obtain family asylum which can be requested at any time during the process for the spouse or children who were part of the asylum application.

For those who have obtained political asylum, after one year of their stay in the United States, they may apply for Permanent Residence. For this, an I-485 form will be required by the applicant and their family members who also seek Permanent Residence.

As an asylum seeker, a foreign citizen can get help from organizations that are sponsored by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Health care, financial aid, English learning and work preparation are part of the services provided.

Obtaining political asylum also requires consideration of special aspects when leaving the United States. Therefore, asylum seekers who wish to do so must first notify them through a “Refugee Travel Document”.

Asylees must also notify USCIS if there is a change of address. This can be done by calling 800-375-5283, or from the “Electronic Address Change” tool, or by submitting an AR-11 form, which is called “Foreign Address Change Card”

If the destination of the trip is the asylee’s country of origin, it is essential that he/she takes into account that he must do so with great caution because of who has been persecuting him/her for his race, political opinion, religion or for being part of a social group specific will you want to return to your country. The United States Government could consider that there is fraud.

How does a Work Authorization Permit work for asylum seekers? 

An asylum application and a work permit are two procedures that cannot be done at the same time. In any case, the asylee may formalize his work authorization 150 days after obtaining asylum even if nothing has been decided regarding the asylum application yet.

The opposite is true if asylum has already been approved, since in that case the person may be allowed to work immediately, so that the work permit is considered one of the great benefits of the political asylum process. It is important to clarify that it is not necessary to pay any fees for asylum applications or for an employment authorization.

“Generally speaking, winning a case of political asylum is not a simple task, so it is necessary to seek legal advice to increase your chances of success. “

Why is an asylum application usually rejected? 

Every day, the number of foreign citizens who decide to request political asylum increases, which is motivated by the social, political, and economic situation in their countries. This has led many to make an application even when they do not qualify for eligibility and, therefore, are denied asylum.

It will be a judge in charge of making that decision and the lawyer in charge of the case may appeal within 30 days, and, during this time, the applicant can stay in the United States.

Asylum may be denied due to inconsistencies in legal representation. Frequently, it turns out that foreign citizens are deceived by the idea that they do qualify for asylum when in reality they don’t. As a consequence, the asylum application is denied and if the person has no legal status, they must face a deportation process.

Some of the reasons why political asylum is denied:

Because they do not meet the criteria for asylum. Sometimes asylum seekers do not formalize the request upon arrival in the country or within the time parameters established by the government.

It should be clear that once the application is denied, only if the applicant has legal status, can he stay in the country. However, if your immigration status is outside the law, USCIS refers the case to an Immigration Court, which is the entity responsible for opening a deportation process.

What happens during a deportation process?

When a person faces deportation, he/she should keep in mind that: 

  • You may be detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service for a long time and without having the option to pay bail.
  • Although you will be entitled to a lawyer, however, he must pay for it.
  • If you do not attend a hearing before the Immigration Court, you might still be deported without being present. If the decision is deportation, the judge will proceed with or without the person being present.

However, not everything is so bleak. Even if the person is undocumented, he/she may use some resources to appeal that deportation process. These resources include waivers before the immigration court, cancellation of deportation for non-residents, cancellation of deportation for permanent residents, motions, bail lawsuits, adjustment of status, and other options.

Who can help you in such cases? Of course, an experienced immigration attorney who has already won many cases of this time before an immigration court.

Get political asylum

We all know that getting political asylum is not at all easy, since it is essential to have the right arguments to obtain it, as well as to know the case and its options very well. Remember that the approval or denial of asylum and the immigration stability of the applicant will depend on that. Hence, it is a rigorous process for which you must have adequate legal advice.

Keep in mind that a large number of people request asylum and, even after presenting all of the information required, there is no guarantee that their applications will be successfully approved

It is also important to note that political asylum is a rigorous process that needs to be treated as such, even though some may believe otherwise. Do not forget that meeting the requirements is the first step to apply for asylum.

As USCIS makes it clear on its website that asylum is a way of protecting for those who meet the definition of refugee and who are on US soil. It is a request that can be made without taking into account the current immigration status and the country of origin.

Another fact is that it is possible to include in the application the spouse and children who are in the United States while making the decision on the case. They should be single and under 21 is the requirement to include children.

Are you looking to apply for political asylum? Are you waiting for the final decision from an immigration court? Whatever your case, you should keep in mind that undergoing a political asylum process can be something very stressful, so it is recommended to act quickly until the process is finished.

Asylum in 2019

Let us be clear about the Trump administration, it has a harsh immigration policy, which today affects millions of foreign citizens who go to the United States in search of better living conditions.

This policy has been aimed at avoiding the wave of migration in the country and more and more restrictions are being made. Regarding the requests for political asylum, last July the US government announced that those migrants who had stopovers in a third country, before they arrived to the United States, may not be eligible for asylum.

As soon as the measure was announced, organizations such as UNHCR said they considered it “excessively” limiting the right of citizens to request political asylum.

In UNHCR’s opinion, those who decide to leave their countries of origin, do so for persecution reasons and not for economic reasons. “Many of them flee the horrific violence of brutal gangs and need international protection,” the agency said.

For its part, Amnesty International stressed that with this measure the United States government only seeks to curb “the latest legal and safe ways” that have those who leave their countries to get support in US territory.

Because of this and other policies, the United Nations has set its eyes on Donald Trump for failing to honor international commitments on the immigration issue.

This measure is in addition to those that have been carried out in recent years to prevent the arrival of migrants. Restrictions and obstacles center the policy of the US government in the country with the largest number of immigrant populations.

Now, will this measure influence the approval of political asylums? Will the restrictions continue?

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