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Asylum & Refugee Law
In order to qualify for asylum, you must meet the definition of a refugee. A refugee is any person who is outside his/her country of nationality, who is unable or unwilling to return because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. You must apply for asylum within one year after your last arrival to the United States, unless you qualify for an exception. Eligibility criteria and the process for applying are described below.Eligibility
You can apply for asylum in the United States, if you:
- File by the 1 year filing deadline
- Are outside your country of nationality
- Meet the definition of a refugee
- Suffered past harm or fear of future persecution because of your:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political Opinion
To apply for affirmative asylum in the United States:
- File Form I-589 with USCIS
- Be physically present in the United States
- Meet the definition of a refugee
- File your asylum application within 1 year of your last arrival to the United States
- If you filed your asylum application after one year, you must show:
- 1. Changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum
- 2. Extraordinary circumstances explaining the delay in filing
- Draft a Declaration, a written document stating the basis of your claim for asylum
- Provide any necessary supporting documentation
After successfully submitting your application for asylum, you may receive one or more of the following responses from USCIS:
- Biometrics Notice: an appointment to appear at a USCIS office where officers will take your photo, fingerprints etc.
- Interview Notice: an appointment to appear at USCIS for a formal interview
- Request for Evidence (RFE): this response indicates that USCIS requires additional evidence (i.e. birth certificate, marriage certificate) to render a decision
- Note: Applicants typically have 90 days to provide requested documents. Applicants should strongly consider reaching out to an experienced attorney for support organizing their evidence in an effective way and to increase the odds of a favorable outcome.
- Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID): this response indicates that USCIS intends to deny an application but does not have sufficient evidence
- Note: This is NOT an official denial and typically gives applicants 30 days to respond. Applicants should strongly consider reaching out to an experienced attorney for support organizing their evidence in an effective way and to increase the odds of a favorable outcome.
- Grant of Asylum: if USCIS approves your application, you’ll receive a grant of asylum
- Referral to Immigration Court: you will receive this if USCIS intends to deny your application and your case will be sent to an immigration judge for a decision
Asylum seekers can qualify for a work permit if their case is won or after 180 days with no decision from USCIS or the immigration court. This waiting period is referred to as the “180-Day Asylum EAD Clock”. The clock begins as soon as a complete asylum application is received by USCIS.
Learn more about Work Permits here.What Happens After Asylum Is Granted?
Once Asylum has been granted, an applicant can start to explore one or more of the following next steps:
- Apply for an Adjustment of Status, also know as a Green card: asylees are eligible to apply after 1 year
- Apply for family: asylees can file form I-730 on behalf of their relatives
- Obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
There are several reasons why USCIS may issue a denial notice, ranging from a lack of evidence to suspicion of fraud. In these instances, a denied asylum case is referred to immigration court, where a judge may grant or deny the application.
There are a number of strategies an attorney can use to help you appeal your asylum claim and achieve a favorable outcome. Attorney Habtemariam offers immigration services with a track record of over 15 years of success and invaluable insights as a former USCIS officer. Schedule a consultation today to learn how Attorney Habtemariam can help you.