Orange County Asylum Attorney
Helping Immigrants in Irvine with Asylum or Refugee Status
Do you need to apply for asylum? Consider having an Orange County asylum attorney by your side. A 2011 report on representation in New York and New Jersey showed that an 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.
If you are being persecuted in your home country, do not hesitate to contact Yekrangi & Associates. Our asylum attorneys in Irvine have served clients throughout Orange County and have years of experience in immigration law. We are ready to provide effective legal advocacy and guide you throughout the process. Reach out to us today.
What Is Asylum?
Asylum is an immigration status the can be claimed by foreign nationals currently residing in the U.S. who are fearful of persecution in their country of origin and wish to remain here in the U.S. Once you have obtained asylum status, you will be allowed to remain in the United States indefinitely.
What Is the Difference Between Asylum & 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.
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.
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 each of the following:
- Composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic
- Defined with particularity
- 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.
How Can I Obtain Asylum in the United States?
The USCIS has three different ways of obtaining aslyum:
- Affirmative asylum
- Asylum Merits Interview after a positive credible fear determination
- Defensive asylum
The unique circumstances of your situation will determine which type of asylum proceeding you may go through. Find out which type of asylum process is right for you by contacting Yekrangi & Associates today and scheduling a consultation with our experienced team!
What are the Eligibility Requirements for Asylum?
The eligibility requirements for asylum in the U.S. are:
- 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
- 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.
Persecution can involve torture, rape, imprisonment, marginalization, and even death --among many other situations. If you or your family have fled from persecution or are at risk of suffering persecution upon returning to your home country, you should seek the help of an experienced asylum lawyer in Orange County!
When Can I Apply for Asylum?
Any immigrant in the United States, regardless of status, may apply for asylum so long as the request is timely. 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 Orange County asylum attorney right away. 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."
What Will Be My Status After I am Granted Asylum?
If you are granted asylum, you will have an asylee status. You will receive an I-94 Arrival and Departure record documenting that you are able to remain indefinitely in the United States as an asylee.
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?
Usually, 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 Happens Next?
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.
Who Can Apply For Asylum?
How Can I Request Asylum if I Don’t Speak English?
If you don’t speak English, you must bring an interpreter. The interpreter must be fluent in both English and the language you speak, and must be over the age of 18. Unfortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not provide interpreters during the asylum interview. If you have an attorney, they may be able to be your interpreter.
Find an Interpreter
Many clients believe they can speak English well enough for the interview. However, to ensure that the asylum officer correctly understands you, it is wise to find a competent interpreter.
Not having an interpreter may hurt your case, and some interpreters may unknowingly hurt your case by not interpreting or translating correctly. An experienced asylum attorney usually has a list of interpreters they feel are competent to interpret during your asylum interview.
Can I Still Apply for Asylum Even if I am in the United States Illegally?
Yes, you can apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status. However, you must apply for asylum no later than a year after being in the United States.
Can a Minor Apply for Asylum?
Yes, a minor can apply for asylum, so long as they meet the qualifications. Whether a minor wants a separate case from their parents or has arrived in the United States without a parent or legal guardian, they can request asylum.
Can I File for Asylum Based on My Gender?
Unfortunately, being the victim of a sex-based crime does not entitle you to asylum based on your gender. In addition to the crime, you must prove that it was part of a discriminatory attitude towards your gender and that your country took no actions to prevent it from recurring.
Only recently has the U.S. government begun recognizing persecution based on gender, which has granted asylum to many women and young girls across the globe.
Reasons that women fear persecution based on their gender include:
- Domestic abuse
- Gender-discriminatory laws
- Female genital mutilation
- Forced marriage
- Honor killings
- Culturally accepted forms of violence against women
- Denial of fundamental human rights and freedoms
Can I Apply for Asylum Even if I Was Convicted of a Crime?
Yes, you can still apply for asylum even if you were convicted of a crime. However, depending on the severity of the crime, your asylum application can get denied.
Applying for asylum? Call Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation. Our Orange County asylum lawyers have years of experience in the asylum process.
Questions About the Application Process
Will I Be Required to Undergo a Background Check?
Yes, every asylum applicant will be required to take a series of background and security checks. However, you may only be required to submit Form I-589 and have your fingerprints taken. Depending on the results of your background check, you may or may not be eligible for asylum.
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.
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.
Need to prepare for the asylum interview? Yekrangi & Associates can help. Call (949) 478-4963. Our Irvine asylum lawyers are here for you.
Can My Asylum Status Be Terminated?
Yes. Your asylee status may be terminated if you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution. However, asylees can apply for lawful permanent resident status after being physically present in the United States for at least one year from the date that they were granted asylum. Becoming a permanent resident will allow you to remain in the United States.
Bolstering Asylum Is Immigration Fraud
Bolstering asylum refers to when an immigrant fabricates a story, usually with tragic undertones, in order to gain asylum in the United States. Though horrors occur around the world every day, and there are certainly countless immigrants who deserve asylum for the dangers of their home country, many people continue to cheapen the truth by lying about their situations back home. This is known as asylum immigration fraud.
Due to the manufacturing of these lies, thousands of true claims go unnoticed and hold less value. Many people are encouraged to falsify these stories as a means to stay in the United States because they don’t want to go back home. This leads many judges to question the cases brought to them, though many are still unwilling to deny those who claim they are in fear.
For such reasons, it is vital to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you prove that your asylum case is valid and not immigration fraud.
What Are the Chances of Winning Asylum in Orange County?
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.)
At Yekrangi & Associates, your satisfaction is our priority! See for yourself what our clients have to say about working with us.
I am so graceful and highly recommend Mr. Yekrangi to anyone who needs a legal advice.- Jose L.
Atty. Ashkan is a great, reputable and very professional lawyer. He handled my case and my husband case without any doubt.- Linda R.
Ashkan Yekrangi is the best immigration lawyer who helped me and my family in all critical situations with his great advice.- Zahra H.
First and foremost, I wanted to thank Ashkan and his team. They made the process of going through the immigration process as easy and stressful as possible.- Billy W.
When I had my interview with my whole family, we passed it because of Mr. Ashkan. I am so thankful for Yekrangi Associates.- Mickey M.