Who Qualifies For Asylum In the United States?
Anyone who has suffered past persecution at the hands of the government, or groups that the government cannot control because of race, religion, political opinion, or their membership in a particular social group qualifies for asylum. They have to establish that they face future persecution if they return to their country.
IS ASYLUM BASICALLY FOR ANYONE WHO IS IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE TIME OF THEIR FILING?
That is correct; asylum is for anyone who is living in the United States at the time of his or her filing. That is where we differentiate between an asylee, and a refugee. So, an asylum seeker, or an asylee, is a person that is living on United States territory versus a refugee, who is a person that is designated as being in danger of persecution, and they enter the United States in that status.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO START THE ASYLUM PROCESS?
In my office, for the asylum process, we interview the potential client to make sure that they qualify. Then we work on gathering documents to support their case, and once all the documents, and information is gathered, we will file an application for asylum on form I-589. Once that application is filed, the individual will go forth, and interview at their local asylum office. If the asylum officer denies their application, and if they are not currently in status, they will be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
At that time, they can again claim asylum as a defense to stay in the United States. At that point, they have the opportunity to present evidence to the court, and testify at a final hearing. It is a small trial called an individual hearing, and at that individual hearing, they will testify. They can present documentation, exhibits, and call additional witnesses to speak on their behalf.
CAN MY FAMILY ALSO APPLY ON MY APPLICATION?
Yes, an entire family can apply on one asylum application. This would cover any spouses, and children. I do many asylum cases as well.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISTAKES DETRIMENTAL TO PEOPLE RECEIVING ASYLUM?
There are a number of things that can hurt an asylum case. The biggest issue that I see is individuals are pushed into asylum by other attorneys when they really do not have a strong case. Once you file that asylum application, for the most part, you are going to be stuck with it. In some circumstances, you can ask the court to hold the case, but you are forever married to that case. Once again, it is very important that the clients be properly screened to make sure that they have a good chance in front of a judge. Additionally, lack of supporting documentation and credibility are the two things that the courts really look at in my experiences.
WHAT IS THE CRITERIA FOR A STRONG ASYLUM CASE VERSUS ONE THAT MAY NOT GO TOO FAR?
First, I look at the country of the asylee. If you are from the United Kingdom, you are probably going to have zero chance of winning asylum in the United States versus a country that is at war. Even then, you have to meet basic criteria like those that I mentioned earlier, and proving that you suffered past persecution at the hands of the government. This needs to be based on one of those protected classes, because it is not enough to be a victim of crime in your country. It is not enough to live in poverty in your country, and it is not enough to face discrimination in your country. You have to show that you were persecuted, and the difficult part is that many people around the world are living in horrendous conditions, but unfortunately, they cannot meet that very high burden of asylum.
WHY IS AN EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY IMPERATIVE IN AN ASYLUM OR IMMIGRATION CASE?
As an experienced immigration attorney, I know exactly what the judges are looking for. If somebody comes to me before they appeared in court, we are going to put them in the very best position possible to win their case, because if you do not win your case at the lowest level, it is going to get much more difficult as you go through the process.
WHAT SETS YOUR FIRM APART IN HANDLING IMMIGRATION CASES?
Experience is key. I have been practicing this law for almost twelve years. I have literally handled thousands and thousands of cases across many states. In handling all these cases, I have seen every scenario you can imagine. It all comes down to experience, dedication, and the relationship with my clients. I put myself into each of my client’s shoes, and I fight for them as if I would want to have someone fight for me, if I was in their position.
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