Many people flee their home countries in search of freedom. It is no surprise that the United States of America has become one of the top choices for refugees applying for asylum from their oppressive governments. However, before you can become an asylee in the U.S., you need to formally seek asylum status based on one of the five factors: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Attorney Ismail Shahtakhtinski and his team have extensive of experience in providing legal assistance to asylum seekers from all over the world.
Before you can become an asylee in the U.S., you must formally apply for asylum through the U.S asylum process based on one or more of the five grounds:
- Race or ethnic origin;
- Religion or religious opinion, including lack of religion, i.e. atheism;
- Nationality or national origin;
- Political opinion; or
- Membership in a particular social group.
The key to your asylum approval is to establish a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country. You must convince the asylum officer or the immigration judge that you have suffered persecution in your home country before. You must demonstrate that the conditions that caused that persecution have not changed, or that there is a reasonable chance of persecution in future if you return to your home country. You must also establish that there is no safe part of your country to which you can return and that you have not firmly resettled in any other country.
Who is a refugee?
A person who: “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence…., is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
There must be a reasonable possibility of persecution. The key to your case will be to prove and establish a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country. You will have to convince the asylum office or the immigration court that you have suffered persecution in your home country before, and the conditions have not changed, or that it is likely that you will be persecuted or will suffer if you return to your home country or both.
Establishing well-founded fear is based on identifying objective and subjective elements:
- Subjective factor. In the context of applying for asylum, fear is defined as awareness of danger. Thus, to satisfy the subjective element, you must show that your fear is genuine. An asylum seeker should only be motivated by a genuine fear of persecution while proving his or her case. A country’s poor economic conditions, civil unrest, or the presence of a natural disaster are not relevant considerations in an asylum application.
- Objective factor. You must prove the objective side of your case. For your fear to be acknowledged as well-founded, you must prove that there is a reasonable possibility that you would be persecuted in your home country. In other words, your fear must be objectively reasonable.
You must be very clear while establishing well-founded fear. Your testimony may be enough to make your case, if it is a compelling, genuine, and consistent story.
Definition: There is no universally accepted definition of “persecution”, but the Board of Immigration Appeals defines persecution as “infliction of harm or suffering by a government or persons a government is unwilling or unable to control, to overcome a characteristic of the victim.” Examples: Genocide; Slavery; Torture; Cruel or degrading, inhuman treatment; Threats of life; Arbitrary arrest or detention; Inability to earn a livelihood; Inability to travel safely within a country; Arbitrary interference with a person’s privacy; Serious restrictions on access to normally available education; Passport denial; Constant surveillance; Pressure to become an informant; Confiscation of property.
* Past persecution: Past persecution provides presumption of well-founded fear. To show past persecution the applicant must prove that an incident: (1) Raises to the level of persecution; (2) Is on account of one of the five enumerated grounds (race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion); (3) Is committed by the government or forces the government is unable or unwilling to control.
* Future persecution: Absence of past persecution is not a bar to asylum. The asylum seeker may also qualify for asylum by showing the reasonable possibility of future persecution.
If you have applied for asylum, you may be able to obtain employment authorization and work in the United States. However, you can only apply for employment authorization 150 days after you submitted your asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview or hearing), provided that no decision has been made on your application during that time. If you are granted asylum, you may work immediately.
One year after the grant of asylum, you can apply for green-card by filing a petition to adjust your status to permanent resident of the United States. If your spouse and/or children have been granted derivative asylum based on your petition, they will have to submit their own applications to adjust status and register permanent residence (I-485).
A green-card will make you eligible for all immigration benefits available to permanent residents of the United States, such as the ability to work legally, to apply for U.S. citizenship after you have held your green-card for five years, and to file immigrant visa petitions for your relatives abroad.
Asylum through Immigration Court vs. Asylum Office
Although the results of each specific asylum case may differ based on the asylum office and particular interviewing officer, it is important for all asylum applicants to carefully prepare for their asylum interviews. Attorney participation at the interview is very important. If an applicant is not sufficiently prepared for the interview, his or her application may be denied or transferred to immigration court.
Applying for asylum through immigration court (defensive asylum application) is much more difficult than through the asylum office (affirmative asylum application). In immigration court, the respondent is just one step away from deportation order if his or her application for asylum is denied. Importantly, immigration court proceedings take years, whereas asylum offices usually schedule an interview within several months, and decide on the case within a few weeks after the asylum interview. To be represented in immigration court by a lawyer, the asylum applicant has to pay additional attorney’s fees, which could have been avoided had the case been approved by asylum office.
Often, asylum applicants in immigration court proceedings have to wait 4 or 5 years, especially if their process involves rescheduling court dates or appealing judge’s decisions. While your case is pending with an immigration court, your children may “age out” of eligibility to claim derivative asylum. For example, if you have an unmarried child who is 19 or 20 years old when you apply for asylum, such child is likely to still be under 21 by the time you get a decision from asylum office. If you are granted asylum, such child will be eligible to be a derivative beneficiary of your petition, meaning that he or she can receive asylee status based on your approved application. However, if your case is referred to immigration court, such child is almost certain to be over 21 by the time your case is decided. Therefore, even if you are eventually granted asylum, your child will be ineligible to claim derivative beneficiary status.
Immigration courts are notorious for failing to properly calculate asylum seekers’ clocks, which determine their eligibility for work authorization. If you become a victim of such administrative error and your asylum clock does not start or restart when it should, you may end up waiting all these years unable to work legally. If you are eligible for employment authorization, the filing fee is waived for first-time asylum applicants, but after your employment authorization card expires in one year, you have to pay filing fee (currently $380) for each renewal. If your court proceedings take many years, you may have to spend thousands of dollars to be eligible to work during this time.
The process in court is adversarial; during a hearing, there is a judge and an opposing side – a government attorney, also known as prosecutor – who is trying to disprove the applicant and find inconsistencies in the applicant’s story. In the asylum office, on the other hand, the process is non-adversarial; during an asylum interview, the interviewing officer simply asks questions, and the applicant answers.
Professionals at I.S. Law Firm have helped numerous applicants from many countries to obtain asylum in the United States. It is very important to select the most effective immigration lawyer for your case. Because your asylum application is an important step in your life that could ultimately determine whether or not you can legally stay in the United States, it is crucial to have an experienced and zealous immigration lawyer to help you. An experienced attorney will help you prepare your asylum application, identify and gather corroborating evidence, and represent you in asylum interview or hearings. In selecting an asylum lawyer, you should always consider the following factors:
(1) The lawyer’s familiarity with the political and social conditions in the country of your origin – Some lawyers, although experienced in immigration laws, may not be sufficiently informed or educated about the client’s home country. As such, it may be difficult or even impossible for that lawyer to understand all intricacies of the social and political situation in the country of persecution. Lack of such understanding may severely limit the attorney’s ability to effectively represent the asylum client.
(2) The lawyer’s interest, understanding, curiosity and appreciation of your culture and ethnic, social, political or religious background – A good asylum lawyer does not have to be of the same ethnicity, political opinion, religion or national origin as the applicant. It is also not important for a lawyer to readily know or share your political and social views, religion, or culture. What is important, however, is that your asylum lawyer must be interested, curious and eager to learn more about you and every aspect of your life that may have an effect on the chances of getting asylum in the US.
(3) Individual attention and use of support staff – A good immigration lawyer must be able to utilize a professional support staff, while dedicating individual attention to each and every case. There should be no exceptions. If you did not meet your asylum case lawyer during your initial consultation, you should not hire such firm. If you will not have one single lawyer who will be fully dedicated to your case and handle your asylum case from day one to the end, your chances of favorable result are very slim. A good asylum lawyer must be personally on top of every development in your case. Your lawyer must regularly meet with you and everyone involved during every stage of the process, including the preparation of the applicant’s personal statement, drafting affidavits, witness preparations, identifying and providing supporting evidence, preparation for the interview, and most importantly the interview participation.
We at I.S Law Firm, PLLC ensure that your asylum case is diligently prepared, timely filed and well presented to the asylum office or immigration court. Our lawyers meet with each client from day one and maintain constant contact throughout the process. Our team of professionals conducts thorough research to identify and present country condition reports and experts in support of our clients’ asylum cases.
I.S. Law Firm has secured many asylum approvals from asylum offices and immigration courts all over the country. In some case, clients come to us after their affirmative asylum cases have been mishandled or denied. In such cases, we spend time to identify and address every issue which may have caused the denial and reorganize the file for the immigration court. By doing so, we have helped numerous applicants in the past to successfully obtain their asylum grants through immigration courts, even after their cases have been referred to courts by the asylum officers.
Thoroughly preparing for your asylum interview is equally important as preparing and filing your asylum application. We spend one-on-one time with each asylum client to prepare for their asylum interviews and our asylum lawyer attends each interview in person. Over the many years of asylum practice, we built up a good reputation and rapport with immigration offices, immigrations courts and government agencies. We are closely familiar with the political atmosphere and human rights conditions in the countries from which our clients seek refuge. Therefore, we have high asylum approval rates.
To see if you qualify for asylum, please contact us schedule a consultation.
Article Title: Asylum
Short Description: Many people flee their home countries in search of freedom. It is no surprise that the United States of America has become one of the top choices for refugees applying for asylum from their oppressive governments. However, before you can become an asylee in the U.S., you need to formally seek asylum status based on one of the five factors: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Attorney Ismail Shahtakhtinski and his team have extensive of experience in providing legal assistance to asylum seekers from all over the world.
Author: Ismail Shahtakhtinski
Publisher - Orgnization: I.S. Law Firm, PLLC