What is LGBT asylum?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (“LGBT”) populations face severe discrimination in many areas of the world for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such individuals fleeing their countries due to such persecution may qualify for asylum under “membership in a particular social group” theory. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines a refugee or asylee as “any 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 nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
In order to apply for asylum, one must fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, which can be found here. Along with the filing, a strong declaration must be crafted, that addresses all the qualifying factors to prove asylum eligibility. In addition to the declaration, supporting evidence from the Applicant and reputable sources are also required.
It costs nothing to apply for LGBT asylum, but applicants are unauthorized to work in the United States for six months after submitting their application. We sincerely understand the financial barriers this poses to a great number of LGBT asylum seekers.
Generally, asylum seekers are required to apply for asylum within one year of arrival in the United States, unless they demonstrate extraordinary circumstances for their delay or changed circumstances which significantly impact their eligibility for asylum. The affirmative asylum process is available for individuals who are not in removal (i.e., deportation) proceedings, whereas the defensive asylum process is for individuals who are in removal proceedings.
After asylum is granted, LGBT asylees are eligible for an array of benefits, including those from voluntary resettlement agencies (“VOLAGS”). These regional organizations provide support for LGBT asylees in signing up for public assistance programs, learning English for professional wellbeing, finding work, as well as obtaining additional immigration legal assistance.
As of January 29, 2018, the Asylum Division of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) stated that it would “give priority to the most recently filed affirmative asylum applications when scheduling asylum interviews,” rather than processing them in the order in which they were received. This means that asylum cases that have been waiting in the queue for years are now at the back of the stack for processing.
Given that individuals fleeing anti-LGBT sentiments and discrimination overseas often find themselves in immediately critical conditions, we understand the need for asylum applications to process as expeditiously as possible.
Why Having an Immigration Attorney is Crucial
The asylum application process is complicated, and individuals who attempt to take on immigration law alone have the potential to harm their case. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the application process and help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation related to your case. Having an attorney on your side can increase the chances of getting your waiver application approved.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with immigration waivers, our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help. Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 for more information about how we can help you with all your immigration needs.