Many immigrants who fear deportation turn to the protection offered under the asylum law in the United States as a way to stay in the country. With asylum, immigrants may be able to seek protection in the US if they fear persecution in their home country. Not everybody will be able to qualify for asylum, however. Use this guide to help you determine whether you may be eligible, and consult an immigration attorney to learn more about your specific circumstance.
There are a number of ways that you may qualify for asylum protection. You may be eligible if:
- you fear persecution because of your race, religion, social status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation
- your home country is experiencing a war
- you or members of your family have been put in prison, tortured, or otherwise harmed in your home country in the past
- your rights and freedoms have been severely restricted
Keep in mind, if you have been convicted of certain violent crimes or if the court can find proof that you have given support to a terrorist group, you may lose your eligibility even if you fit one of the above requirements.
Applying for asylum can be challenging, and if you are not familiar with the process you will benefit immensely from the help and advice of an experienced immigration lawyer. To start the process, you will need to fill out USCIS Form I-589, along with some other needed documents, and mail it all to the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Then, your lawyer will work with you to start building a case that will convince an asylum office that you do indeed qualify for asylum.
You will have to provide a statement explaining what type of persecution you fear and why, along with as much documented evidence as possible of persecution you have endured in the past, the conditions of your home country, and proof of your political affiliation, etc. that you fear persecution for. When you have your interview with the asylum office, you will have to verbally communicate this information again, and bring your own translator if you need one.
Other Tips to Keep in Mind
You must apply for asylum within one year of coming into the country. There are a few instances in which this deadline may be waived, but your chances of being granted asylum are much better if you apply before the year is up. If you miss this deadline, you may still be able to stay in the country if you apply for witholding of removal or Convention Against Torture protection. In fact, you should apply for these as well when you apply for asylum, even if you are within the one year deadline, because you may qualify for one if your application for asylum is denied.
Applying for asylum is a difficult and lengthy process. The required documents can be confusing, and it isn’t always easy to determine what evidence can be used as proof of your likelihood of persecution. Hiring an immigration attorney gives you the best chances of winning your case for asylum, and even of being allowed to bring your family into the country as well.