How To Seek Asylum In The USA

Asylum is protection granted to non-citizens of the United States who have suffered persecution or fear of persecution in their home country. If you are considering becoming an asylum seeker, the immigration attorneys at Amaryllis Law can answer your questions.

Asylum is a protection granted to non-citizens of the United States who have suffered persecution or fear of persecution in their home country. If you are considering applying for asylum, the immigration attorneys at Amaryllis Law can answer your questions.

Who Qualifies for Asylum?

In order to qualify for asylum in the USA, you must demonstrate that you have suffered persecution or will suffer persecution due to your religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group. While there are exceptions, applications for asylum must be submitted within 1 year of entering the United States.

What Does Persecution Mean?

Persecution may include a combination of:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual abuse or harm
  • Torture
  • Unlawful detention
  • Discrimination, including economic
  • Infliction of mental, emotional, or psychological harm

There are many specific forms of persecution. It is best to talk to an experienced immigration lawyer to determine if the harm you experienced or fear you will experience qualify as persecution.

Who is an Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC)?

An unaccompanied alien child is a child who is under the age of 18 who arrived at the U.S. border without their parent or guardian. Additionally, under current case law, the child must remain in the United States without their parent or guardian to keep their classification as a UAC.

What Are Some Examples of a Change in Circumstance?

Generally, applications for asylum in the USA must be submitted within one year of entering the United States. In some circumstances, an applicant for asylum may file for asylum after the one-year deadline if they or their family members have faced a change in circumstances that changes or creates an asylum claim. This includes receiving new threats or partaking in some action that makes you more likely to face persecution at home. After a change in circumstance, it is important to apply for asylum as soon as possible. 

Can You Apply for Asylum Outside of the USA?

No. You must be in the United States of America or at the border to apply for asylum.

Can I Bring My Family to the United States?

If you are granted asylum, you may be able to bring certain family members such as your spouse and your minor children, so long as you apply to do so within two years of being granted asylum.

If I Was Convicted of a Crime, Can I Still Apply for Asylum?

It depends on where you committed the crime and how serious it was. Certain crimes are classified as being “particularly serious” crimes and these crimes may affect your eligibility for asylum felony convictions have a severe effect on your ability to get asylum. There are crimes that disqualify you from asylum. To avoid complications in your asylum case, it is important not to commit any crimes. 

Are Asylum Seekers Released Before Their Immigration Court Hearings?

This depends on the time of detention and reason for detention. If an asylum seeker is detained when entering the United States, they likely will not receive a bond or release until after a “credible fear interview” and a finding of “credible fear.” In general, asylum seekers can be released before their hearing. However, you may be monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet. You may need to seek assistance from an immigration attorney to be released from a detention facility.

How Long Does the Asylum Process Take?

In the Immigration Courts, asylum can take anywhere from a few months for clients who are detained, to approximately four or more years for clients who are not detained due to the long backlog in the immigration courts. Having a lawyer can help you ensure that your asylum case is processing as efficiently as possible.  

Do I Need an Attorney? Does the Government Provide Defensive Asylum Seekers With Appointed Immigration Lawyers?

The government does not provide attorneys for asylum seekers but asylum seekers can hire their own lawyer to represent them in court.

Chances of obtaining asylum are statistically five times higher if the applicant has an attorney. In 2017, 90% of applicants without an attorney were denied, while almost half of those with representation were successful in receiving asylum.

How Long Does My Visa Last and Can It Be Renewed?

After an asylum application has been approved, the asylee must wait one year before they are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency. During this one-year wait, the asylee will be eligible to apply for and renew his or her work authorization. Once asylum status is granted/approved, it does not need to be renewed with the Court or the asylum office.

After Applying For Asylum, Can I Legally Work in the United States?

Yes, after you apply for asylum and your case is processing with the government for 150 days, you can apply for a work authorization in the United States. If you apply for and are granted a work authorization, you may work in the United States.

Can I Become a U.S. Citizen?

After an asylum applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident, they must wait four years before they can apply to become a U.S. Citizen. 

Asylum Versus Refugee Status

In order to apply for refugee status, you must not be in the United States. We recommend talking to an immigration lawyer to determine whether asylum or refugee status is best for you.

Links to Useful Resources

USCIS on asylum

USCIS on how to obtain asylum

How Can Amaryllis Law Help?

We vet asylum cases strenuously, and though we haven’t kept statistics, we probably recommend against filing as often as we recommend moving forward. You can count on our honest advice and our honest portrayal of your case to USCIS or the court. We prepare your case with an eye to your individual facts and circumstances, a vitally important understanding of the situation in your home country, and with an ever-cautious eye on the existing body of asylum law. In addition to preparing your application, we keep track of processing times, prepare you rigorously for your interview or Court hearing, typically attend your interview with you, and zealously present your case in Court.

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