Immigration attorney Nick Alcock explains how asylum cases work. It is very likely that you have heard of “political asylum” before. But before unwrapping the secrets of this unique form of immigration protection, it is important to know asylum is not limited to just people who were involved in politics in their home country. This type of protection is available to a much wider group of people who have one thing in common: they are afraid of being harmed in their home country.
If you or a loved one has a hearing scheduled in immigration court and are trying to prevent deportation, there is another type of protection that may be available – even if you or your loved one is not eligible to apply for asylum protection. Keep reading to find out more about asylum, to find out about the related form of protection in immigration court, called withholding of removal, and finally to learn about the answers to questions which experienced immigration attorneys are commonly asked.
Asylum Attorneys Immigration:
Many countries throughout the world offer individuals asylum protection if they meet a specific set of requirements. The United States is no different, and in fact, follows many international standards meant to protect people from foreign governments who are unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens.
To start, an applicant for asylum must be trying to escape harm that they believe would come to them in their home country.
You or a loved one may be eligible to apply for asylum if you or someone close to you has experienced past threats, physical harm or abuse in your home country. If this has not happened, but there is reason to believe it might happen if you or your loved one returns to your home country, then you still may be eligible to apply for asylum.
The next question to ask is why would this harm happen?
Asylum law cannot protect everyone who is fearful of returning to their country, but it can protect more than just those involved in politics. In the United States, asylum law protects groups of people who fit into any one of these categories:
(1) people who may be harmed because of their race;
(2) people who may be harmed because they are citizens or nationals of more than one country;
(3) people who may be harmed because they practice a religion that is not widely accepted in their country;
(4) people who may be harmed because of their political viewpoints, or because of political viewpoints others may think they have;
(5) people who are members of a small group of individuals within their society that share life experiences (some examples include: family members of famous people; gay and lesbian individuals; wealthy individuals or families who own land or businesses; people who have testified in court);
(6) people who have suffered severe physical or mental abuses by agents of their home country’s government.
If you think you may qualify, remember that even though evidence is an important part of any case, you or your loved one should not decide you don’t have enough evidence without first consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. An experienced immigration attorney will discuss what kind of evidence you may be able to obtain and submit to an immigration judge to help win your case.
If you think you may qualify for asylum, the next question to ask is how long has it been since you have been outside the United States? If it has been less than one year, you may qualify to apply for asylum protection. If it has been more than a year since you have been outside the United States, but need to defend against a deportation, you could still qualify for the defense called: withholding of removal.
Withholding of Removal:
Withholding of removal is very similar to asylum. The main difference is you or your loved one can apply, even if it has been more than one year since you last entered the United States. In return for having this form of defense, immigration judges require more than they would for asylum.
Sometimes, an experienced immigration attorney can provide legal arguments to a judge explaining why you are eligible for asylum, even though it has been more than a year since you last entered the United States.
First, when your personal situation has changed in a way that now makes the thought of returning to your home country terrifying. For example, while you were present in the United States, a family member was elected to be mayor of a city in your home country, and as a result of this public position, your family has received threats or has been harmed.
Second, the situation in your country has changed to make the thought of returning terrifying. For example, a law prohibiting gay or lesbian marriage was implemented and you are married to a same-sex individual.
Yes. First you receive a protection called asylee status. You can get a work permit indefinitely with this status. After waiting one year with this status you can apply to become a legal permanent resident (green card). Five years later you can apply to become a U.S. citizen
By applying for asylum, you are requesting the U.S. government provide you protection so that you do not have to return to your home country. You should not return if you are granted asylum. However, after becoming a U.S. citizen, if circumstances change so that you are not fearful of returning to your country, you may do so. Please consult with an immigration attorney before ever leaving the country if you are granted this type of protection.
If you win, you will still be ordered removed by the immigration judge, but the judge’s order will also protect you from deportation. You can remain in the U.S. as long as you have this protection, which can be your entire life. However, you cannot become a U.S. citizen through this method.
Yes. If you are convicted of a crime, it is recommended you consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Minor crimes may be forgiven. More serious ones could result in revocation of protection and deportation.
No. Asylum cases are generally very difficult to win for any individual, regardless of which country you may be from. Individuals from any country may apply, and individuals from any country may be granted acceptance of their application. However, on a national level, people who apply with the help of an attorney have much higher rates of acceptance when applying for asylum.
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