We have been in your shoes. We're here to help you apply for asylum.

ASYLUM

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: 1) political beliefs, 2) gender, 3) sexual orientation, 4) ethnicity, 5) nationality, or any other "group" of people sharing a common identity. Individuals who fear torture, rape, imprisonment, death, marginalization--among many other situations--are considered acts of persecution if they are committed based on those five grounds.

An applicant for asylum or withholding of removal seeking relief based on “membership in a particular social group” must establish that the group is each of the following:

  1. Composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic
  2. Defined with particularity
  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.

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).

Asylum and refuge provide protection for those who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin. Many people refer to asylum as "political asylum" although asylum is not solely granted for political reasons. Generally, asylum is granted when you are currently in the United States and certain time restrictions apply.

Being a refugee, however, is generally granted when you are outside the United States, either by applying at certain United States Embassies or through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

To apply for asylum while inside the United States, contact an experienced Orange County asylum attorney. The process requires proof of your well-founded fear and an attorney can guide you through this complex process. Once granted, asylees are given permission to work and may apply for a green card.

Eligibility for Asylum

To be eligible for asylum, you must prove that 1) you are unable to return to your country of origin because you have a well-founded fear of either past or future persecution; and that 2) your persecution is on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion. These five grounds can be further broken down into sub-groups, such as sexual orientation, gender, and other minority groups.

Who may apply?

Any person in the United States, regardless of legal status, may apply for asylum so long as the request is timely.

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.)

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 here.

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 expedited.

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 questions, 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.

Find an Interpreter

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 your 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.

To schedule an initial consultation with us today, don't hesitate to contact us at (949) 478-4963.

Three Reasons to Choose Us to Represent You

  • As an immigrant himself, Attorney Yekrangi has a personal passion for immigration matters.

  • Protecting your rights is our first priority. We look at the big picture to help you achieve the American dream.

  • You are not just another file. We care about your case, and Attorney Yekrangi is highly accessible to you.

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