Asylum Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from a Knowledgeable Orange County Asylum Attorney
Obtaining asylum here in the U.S. is one of the most urgent immigration
law matters a non-citizen faces. Below, the
Law Office of Ashkan Yekrangi, P.C. has provided some reliable answers on asylum, obtaining asylum status,
and the application process. If you need more answers or are ready to
begin the application process, contact the knowledgeable and proven Orange
County asylum attorney at 949.478.4963 today.
What is asylum?
Asylum is an immigration status the can be claimed here in the U.S. by
foreign nationals. Those seeking asylum are fearful of persecution in
their country of origin and wish to escape the persecution by staying
here in the U.S. Persecution means harm because of someone's political
beleifs, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, or any other
"group" of people sharing a common identity.
What is the difference between applying for asylum and being a refugee?
Generally speaking, asylum status applies to those who are already present
here in the U.S and are not already either permanent residents or citizens.
Refugee status is usually granted to individuals outside the U.S. who
are fleeing dangerous conditions in their country of origin and are applying
for U.S. entry through a United States Embassy or the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
When can I apply for asylum?
If you are a non-citizen already in the U.S., you have up to one year to
apply for asylum to the USCIS. If you are at a U.S. border or entry point,
you can either a) enter the country with a valid visa and wait to apply
for asylum, b) tell border officials that you are seeking asylum immediately
and submit to the asylum petitioning process. Note that claiming asylum
at a US port of entry will likely subject you to immigration detention
while your case is pending, although some are granted bond or paroled
while their case is processed.
If you are already in the U.S. and you wait more than a year, it is critical
that you speak to an asylum law attorney. They can help you approach the
USCIS and possibly still gain asylum status. The law allows for exceptions
to the one-year rule, most notably due to "changed circumstances."
Do I need a lawyer to apply for asylum?
A 2011 report on representation in NY and NJ showed that and individual
was five times more likely to win relief with a lawyer than without. Another
study identified counsel as the single biggest factor affecting the outcome
of an asylum case.
Here's the link to the report.
What are the chances of me winning asylum?
Every case is different. The asylum office evaluates many different factors
in every case, including the applicant's background, how they entered
the country, and whether or not their fear of persecution is credible.
That said, having legal counsel guide you through the process greatly
improves your prospects of winning asylum. In asylum law, credibility
is everything and your asylum application must be carefully crafted to
ensure there is a "nexus" or connection between the harm you
face or will face and the five protected groups (race, religion, nationality,
political opinion and membership in a particular social group.
What is membership in a particular social group?
An applicant for asylum or withholding of removal seeking relief based
on “membership in a particular social group” must establish
that the group is
(1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2)
defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society
in question. Recognized "social groups" include gays and lesbians,
families, women facing domestic violence or inability to practice fundamental
rights, women facing female genital mutilation (FGM), clans, tribes, and others.
When will my interview be scheduled?
Granting asylum is a slow moving process for the USCIS. As of mid-2016,
the organization is just now getting to asylum interviews for applications
who submitted in 2011. When your interview is scheduled, it will take
place at one of eight asylum offices (although asylum officers sometimes
travel outside of these locations and perform interviews at USCIS offices).
To determine where your interview will take place based on where you live, click
Can I ask that my asylum interview be scheduled sooner?
In certain compelling circumstances, the asylum office may expedite your
interview. In addition, asylum applications filed by children are automatically
What types of questions will they ask me at the interview?
Asylum interviews generally last several hours and even longer depending
on how many family members are included in the application. The interview
begins with taking an oath regarding truthful testimony, and begins with
reviewing your I-589 for accuracy. Then the asylum officer will go through
your declaration and ask you questions regarding your asylum claim. The
interviewer will also determine whether the applicant is barred from asylum
in the U.S. for any reason. It is an important to consult an asylum lawyer
because some bars can apply even if the applicant was trying to help someone.
Generally, the questions asked are drawn from the declaration provided
with your asylum application. The officer is searching for consistency
and credibility. Therefore, it is important that you spend a lot of time
preparing for your interview. An effective asylum lawyer will schedule
a "mock interview" and ask anticipated quesitons, as well as
work with you in properly explaining weak aspects of your case. At the
end of the interview, your asylum lawyer will ask follow up questions.
Usually, these questions help clarify issues that the attorney believes
the asylum officer did not understand, or help "save" you from
previous answers that hurt your claim. The attorney will also be able
to provide a closing statement.
It is important to note that the USCIS asylum office does not provide an
interpreter. You must provide your own if needed. Your attorney can also
be present during this interview as well (but cannot serve as your interpreter).
Many clients believe they can speak English well enough for the interview.
However, ensuring that the asylum officer correctly understands you, it
is wise to find a competent interpreter. Just as not having an interpret
may hurt your case, some interpreters may unknowingly hurt your case by
not interpreting or translating correctly. An experienced asylum attorney
usually has a list of interpreters he or she feels is competent to interpret
during your asylum interview.
When will I receive the results of the interview?
After your interview, asylum officers will review your case and make a
determination about the applicant's eligibility. This process can
take up to two weeks following the interview—although longer periods
have been known to occur, as well. You will need to receive the decision
in person at the USCIS office when notified that it is available.interview?
What is "recommended approval"?
Recommended approval means that asylum office has approved your asylum
claim, but you are not yet recognized as an asylee until certain background
checks are processed. After security and background checks are completed,
your recommended approval becomes an approval with all the benefits an
asylee is entitled to, including cash benefits, healthcare, tuition assistance and more.
How long must I wait before I can work if I apply for asylum?
Because it can take years for an interview to be scheduled, asylum applicants
are allowed to apply for an Employment Authorization Document—but
not right away. You can only receive these work permits when a) you are
granted asylum or b) 180 days have passed since your application was submitted.
You are allowed to submit an application for your Employment Authorization
Document 150 days after filing your application so that you can receive
the permit as close to that 180-day mark as possible. Speak to a skilled
Orange County immigration lawyer to learn more about your work eligibility
following your asylum application. It is not uncommon for USCIS to take
as long as two months before it issues your employment authorization card.
What benefits will I receive if my application is approved?
If your asylum is granted, you are allowed to stay in the U.S. and even
take further steps to establish you and your family's lives here.
Asylum status allows you to file Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition,
which can bring your spouse and/or children to the U.S. After one year,
you can also apply for a permanent residency (green card) status. Four
Learn more about your asylum benefits by speaking with an attorney.
When can I apply for citizenship or naturalization?
permanent residents must wait 3 or 5 years before applying for
naturalization (3 years if green card obtain through marriage, 5 years for all other
situations). For asylees, however, you must wait 4 years, because the
first year following your asylum approval counts toward the 5 year requirement.
My asylum interview was denied or referred to an Immigration Court. What
The asylum office does not necessarily deny your case, but instead refers
the matter to immigration court. Unfortunately, immigration courts also
have backlogs, so a final resolution of your case may be years away--even
longer if appealed. It is crucial to hire an immigration attorney who
is experienced with immigration laws and procedures of immigration court.
Sometimes these attorneys are referred to as
deportation defense lawyers, or removal attorneys.
Do you have more questions about the asylum process? Ready to file an application?
Contact the proven Orange County asylum lawyer at the Law Office of Ashkan
Yekrangi, P.C. for a