Asylum Attorney Referral Service

Political conflict, civil war and persecution in countries around the world drive numerous people to the United States in search of a safe haven. They seek asylum out of fear for their own safety. The grant of asylum, however, is not a right but rather a privilege that is subject to US immigration rules and regulations.

What is Asylum?

Asylum refers to the immigration status granted to non-citizens of the United States who have been persecuted or fear persecution in their home countries due to their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a specific social group

This type of immigration status is granted to people who fit the definition of refugee and are already in the US or arriving in the US and seeking admission at a port of entry.

Anyone eligible for Asylum may:

  • Remain in the US
  • Petition the spouse and children who are already in the US
  • Apply for permission to work or obtain employment authorization in the US

When Asylum is granted, the refugee, if already in the US can remain in the US, or may enter the US. They may not return to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence. An asylee may also obtain employment and travel abroad under certain conditions.

Who may apply for Asylum?

You can apply for Asylum if you are arriving in the US or are already physically present in the US, regardless of your immigration status. The application for Asylum must be made at the port of entry such as the airport, seaport, or border crossing if you are about to enter the US. If you are already in the US, the application is submitted at the appropriate service center.

When to apply

Generally, you must apply for Asylum within one (1) year of your last arrival in the US. Timeliness in the submission of your application is crucial unless you can show:

  • Changed circumstances affecting your eligibility to apply within the required one-year period
  • Extraordinary circumstances relating to your failure to file within the required period

Who may need an attorney for Asylum

Asylum applicants: Affirmative process

If you are already in the US and not subject of a removal proceedings in US immigration court, you may apply for Asylum through the affirmative process. This requires a completed Form I-589, fingerprinting, and background checks, and an interview before a decision is made.

The Asylum interview is a non-adversarial proceeding where you are entitled to bring a lawyer to represent you. An Asylum officer will determine your eligibility for Asylum, specifically whether you fit the definition of a refugee under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and suffer from none of the bars of Asylum. Before ending the interview, the Asylum officer may give your immigration attorney an opportunity to add some information or say some words on your behalf.

Applicants using Asylum as a defensive process

You may also request for Asylum as a defense against removal or deportation proceedings in immigration court. Court proceedings in immigration court are adversarial in nature, similar to litigation proceedings where a judge will hear the arguments of the applicant and the attorney of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ideally, you must be represented by an experienced immigration lawyer in immigration court. The judge may order that asylum be granted or order the removal of the applicant. The decision of the immigration court may be appealed.

How can an attorney help?

The sources of Asylum law include the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) specifically 8 CFR Section 208, and case law. Details of the application form, the affirmative and defensive process and Asylum interview are also found online at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. The entire process, from application to decision, and its appeal, involves legal rules, statutory definitions, administrative and adversarial procedures.

An experienced immigration attorney can:

  • Guide you as you complete your application form,
  • Help prepare witnesses and represent you in your Asylum interview
  • File an appeal of an adverse decision at the immigration court
  • Provide advice on other immigration filings such as green card applications after the Asylum application is granted.

We can help you find the right attorney for your Asylum case. Contact us at 818-340-4529.