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The Asylum Process

Immigration continues to remain on the agenda in the national debate and decisions made at all levels of government continue to impact thousands of lives. For some individuals, applying for asylum is a solution of last resort.  In 2015, the Department of Homeland security reported that there were 26,124 individuals who were granted asylum. While this seems like a large number, obtaining asylum can still be a particularly difficult process. 

Why Asylum Is Desired

Individuals who are classified as refugees are likely to qualify for asylum. Refugees include any individual who is outside their country of residence and unable or unwilling to return to that country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. This persecution can be due to the individual’s nationality, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, race, or religion. Individuals must be aware that there are a number of reasons why asylum can be rejected including: assisting in genocide, having a record of persecuting another, being convicted of a serious crime and representing a danger to the United States, having committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside of the United States, and representing a danger to the security of the United States.

How Asylum Affects Work and Families

There are two particularly important daily elements that individuals applying for asylum are often curious about:

Family. Individuals are often curious as to whether an individual’s family can also be granted asylum. An individual can include their spouse and unmarried children under the age of twenty years old. If individuals do not include family in an initial asylum application, an individual can petition to bring these family members to the United States once asylum has been granted through a Form I-730, which is also called a Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.

WorkIndividuals will be eligible to work immediately after being granted asylum. Individuals might wish to obtain an Employment Authorization Document, which can help for identification purposes.

The Asylum Process

Applying for asylum is a particularly difficult process for individuals, which involves filing a Form I-589, which is also known as an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. The location where an individual submits the Form I-589, however, depends upon a variety of circumstances including:

Individuals Applying for Asylum for the First Time Who Are Not Involved in Removal Proceedings. Individuals in this type of situation should apply at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center that has jurisdiction over the individual’s place of residence.

Individuals Applying for Asylum Who Were Previously Denied Asylum. For individuals who are involved in this type of situation, the individual must apply at the asylum office that has jurisdiction over the individual’s place of residence.

Individuals Engaged in Removal Proceedings. Individuals engaged in this type of situation should apply at the immigration court that jurisdiction over the individual’s place of residence.

Individuals Who Are Part of A Group or who Entered the United States Pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program. This category of individuals should apply at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center that has jurisdiction over the individual’s place of residence.

Why It's Prudent To Engage An Attorney

Asylum applicants can expect to receive a decision within six months of their application. Individuals seeking asylum frequently wonder when it is essential to bring an attorney to the immigration process. It is critical to understand that while it is not required, applicants who bring an attorney who is experienced with the complexities of the process.  

If you’ve found this blog post useful and would like to find out what would work best in your own unique situation, contact The Law Office of Robert J. Maher, P.C. for a complimentary 90-minute consultation with a New York immigration attorney.