How Does Asylum Work in the U.S.?

The number of asylum seekers in the U.S. has increased substantially since the new administration took office in D.C. The previous administration and COVID-19 protocols shifted a few long-standing asylum procedures, but we anticipate things gradually getting back to the status quo. This blog will serve as a general guide to those already in the U.S. or those who anticipate coming to the U.S. and filing for asylum in the near future. 

Defensive vs. Affirmative Asylum

Individuals already involved in removal proceedings are limited to filing for defensive asylum. Other asylees are free to apply for affirmative asylum, which begins with filing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. You need to be extremely detailed on this form and provide supporting documentation. Depending on current policies, those who are caught at the border without documents may be placed in expedited removal unless they mention a credible fear of persecution or torture. After that, they may have to appear for a preliminary “credible fear screening.” 

What are the Requirements for Asylees?

Essentially, you must show that you are a victim of past persecution in your home country or you have a credible fear of persecution or torture if you were to return to your home country. Importantly, the persecution or torture must be on the basis of one or more of the following grounds: 

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a specific social group
  • Political opinion

Main Interview

After you have submitted your paperwork, you will then need to wait for your asylum interview. You may or may not be able to wait inside the U.S. Be sure to apply for affirmative asylum within one year of your U.S. arrival. 

As soon as possible — and definitely before your asylum interview — you should hire an experienced immigration attorney. Anything you miss on your documents or during your interview could sink your case. The immigration judge will ask you a number of questions about your application and the situation in your home country. Don’t assume the judge has heard about the latest violence back home; the burden of proof is on you to prove that you deserve asylum status. 

How Long Will Your Asylum Case Take?

There is no way of knowing for sure, but recent cases have been adjudicated in 700 days (or more). As of this writing, federal agencies are dealing with a great amount of backlogged cases. Regardless, you will need patience to see out your asylum application. 

With everything at stake, you need a caring and aggressive attorney to help you navigate your asylum application. RelisLaw wants to see you succeed, and we’d be happy to help any way we can. Get in touch with our team here to schedule a free 10-minute phone consultation.

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We help people from around the world to live and work freely in the U.S., to achieve their dreams, unite families, or escape persecution. No matter what immigration service you need, RelisLaw will provide caring and dependable counsel to you and aggressive advocacy to vigorously fight for you using every available legal avenue. As a global firm, we work with people in countries around the world. We meet clients across the U.S., as well as in New York, Toronto, and Montréal. We also meet with clients globally, located in any country, via Skype and other platforms.