Asylum – Immigration law – immigration attorneys asylum

Many people flock to the United States on an annual basis in order to escape danger in their home countries and to have safe harbor while in the U.S.

Asylum is granted to individuals who are in fear of persecution in their country of origin due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership in a particular social group.

Who Qualifies for Asylum?

In order to qualify for asylum, an individual must meet the definition of a refugee.

According to INA 101(a)(42) a refugee is any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Are there Any Benefits of Asylum?

The primary benefit of an individual receiving asylum is having the protection of the United States from being forced to return to their country of origin.

Having asylum benefits provides an individual with the authorization to work in the United States, apply for a social security number, receive certain government benefits, and petition to bring family members over to the United States. Once an asylee has maintained their status for one year, they will be eligible to apply for their green card. Four years after that, an asylee may apply for U.S. Citizenship.

For further information, the USCIS website has a section which provides a list of the benefits and responsibility of asylees.

What is the Process Involved and When Should Someone Apply?

It is important to note that individuals who have been in the United States for longer than one year may not apply for asylum. There are exceptions to this one year rule if circumstances have changed, or if there were extraordinary circumstances which prevented the applicant from timely filing their asylum application.

The process of applying for asylum benefits depends on If the individual is currently in removal proceedings or not. Because asylum is considered a defense against removal from the United States, an individual with an order for removal must prove to an immigration judge that they meet the definition of a refugee and that they have a well-founded fear of persecution of returning to their home country.

An applicant for asylum may also affirmatively apply for asylum benefits. The applicant must apply for asylum within one year of being in the United States or they will not be eligible. If an immigration officer does not approve their application, the individual will have to make a later appearance in immigration court, where they will bear the burden of demonstrating that they are a refugee and have a well-founded fear of returning to their home country.

How Long Does It Take to Be Granted Asylum?

Based on current figures of early 2018, the average time for an applicant’s asylum application to be processed, for interviews to be conducted, and for asylum to be granted is between three to four years. This is an incredibly long time for any applicant to wait and with an ever-increasing backlog of asylum cases every year, the average wait for an applicant could take longer.

The process for applying for asylum can be confusing and complicated. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney in order to determine your eligibility and to ensure that your application is in good order before it is submitted for review by the USCIS. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist with your inquiries.

To learn about Convention Against Torture (CAT), click here.

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