Political Asylum & Refugees
The United States has a strong commitment to human rights at home and around the world. Americans believe that basic human rights should be something everyone has. One of the ways the United States fulfills that is by granting asylum to any noncitizen in the United States who has a fear of losing their basic human rights upon returning to his or her home country.
A person can qualify for asylum, or political asylum, if he or she has a reasonable fear, of future persecution, on account of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.. A reasonable fear just means one need not prove conclusively that they will be persecuted in the future; only that they have a good reason to fear that it will happen. Courts have granted asylum in the US to people who have as little as a ten to fifteen percent chance of persecution in the future. Persecution means that the harm an asylum seeker is afraid of is severe enough to be considered a serious violation of one’s human rights. A loss of money or small restriction on liberty is typically not enough to constitute persecution, while a serious threat to one’s life or liberty is more likely to be considered persecution. Race, religion, and national origin are fairly straightforward. Political opinion asylum does not necessarily require a political opinion in order to be a protected opinion; an opinion about a nonpolitical issue can sometimes qualify. An imputed political opinion is sufficient for asylum purposes. A particular social group is a group of people with a common, immutable trait that either cannot be changed or should never be forced to change. Tribal and ethnic groups, female victims of domestic violence, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) commonly fit into this category.
US Asylum: A Chance for Many
There is no limit to the number of people who can receive political asylum in the United States. Anyone who fits the requirements can live and work in the United States for life, along with his or her spouse and young, unmarried children. After one year of being in asylee status, an asylee can apply for a Green Card and, eventually, citizenship. US Asylum law is very generous, but also very complex. It is designed to help people in need, but the US government faces a lot of fraud from asylum applicants.
Filing for Asylum in USA
There are two ways for someone to file for asylum in the US – affirmatively and defensively. An affirmative asylum application can be done while someone is in the United States in any immigration status, or even with no status. A defensive asylum application can only be made when someone is in removal, or deportation, proceedings. If you fear persecution on account of your race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group and you are not currently in the United States, you can apply for refugee status. You can also go to the United States and make an asylum claim at the border. In order to make an affirmative application in America, one must file form I-589 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Because of the complexity involved in filing for asylum, working with an experienced asylum attorney is a very good idea. Once the government receives the form I-589, the case is assigned to an Asylum Officer who conducts an interview with the applicant and makes a decision whether or not to grant asylum. If the Asylum Officer rejects the affirmative asylum application, there is no appeal. A defensive asylum application is made by someone who is in removal proceedings. An asylum applicant can end up in removal proceedings if 1) immigration enforcement officials arrest someone in the country illegally, 2) an affirmative asylum application is denied and the applicant is in the country illegally, or 3) an asylum seeker does not have a visa while trying to enter the United States, but the border officer thinks that the person might qualify for asylum.
Political Asylum: A Complex Process
A defensive asylum application is made in Immigration Court in front of an Immigration Judge. The Immigration Judge is independent from the government and can grant asylum over the government’s objection. If the Immigration Judge denies the defensive asylum application, the asylum seeker can appeal. An experienced asylum attorney greatly increases the chances of success. If you are afraid of persecution in your home country and would like to get help from a top New York Asylum Attorney, call the New York Human Rights Committee toll free at +1 (800) 560-1768.
Asylum Status in US
Once asylum is granted, a person has the right to live and work in the US for the rest of his or her life. If the asylee has a spouse or a young, unmarried child outside of the US, he or she can apply to get them a visa to enter the US. After a year of being in the US on asylum status, an asylee can apply for a Green Card. An asylee typically cannot return to his or her home country, except under certain circumstances. The logic of this is that, if you are granted asylum because you are truly afraid of returning, why would you want to return after being granted asylum?
At the LAW OFFICES OF GIHAN THOMAS, we are highly experienced in US asylum law. We have helped people from all over the world fleeing persecution to gain asylum in the US. Our support staff will work with you individually to give you the best chance of success possible. We know how difficult and heart wrenching the asylum process can be, and we will be with you every step of the way.