The United States proudly labels itself “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and this tagline is fairly well known throughout the world. Because of this statement and the numerous rights that American citizens are granted, many foreigners look to the United States as a safe harbor when they need it most. Many will apply for immigration while others will seek asylum on American soil. Knowing the difference and understanding the application process can save individuals from experiencing further difficulties and persecution abroad.
Individuals seeking asylum are looking for protection from a threat of persecution or if they were persecuted in the past. This is typically in regards to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, and/or political opinion. These are often protected rights that we take for granted as Americans but that many foreigners are not given. Those seeking asylum are known as refugees or asylees. These individuals have been forced to flee their own county due to persecution, war, or violence.
There are two ways in which an individual can apply for asylum in the United States: the affirmative asylum process or the defensive asylum process. Those who choose to use the affirmative asylum process must be physically present in the United States and must do so within one year of arriving in the country. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will view their application and decide whether or not they will be granted asylum. Those who are denied and have an expired visa can defer to the defensive asylum process as their alternative.
The defensive asylum process is reserved for those on the brink of being removed from the country due to an expired or invalid visa. These individuals can seek asylum to avoid being deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If the person requests defensive asylum, an immigration judge will look at their case in court and determine whether or not they will be granted asylum.
Those applying for asylum must complete a Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. According to the National Immigration Forum, the chances of being granted asylum are statistically five times higher if the applicant has an attorney helping them. In 2017, 90 percent of applicants without an attorney were denied asylum but approximately half of those who applied with legal representation were granted asylum.
Applying for asylum or an immigration visa is a process that should be done with a critical eye from the beginning. Throughout your application process, your appearance and demeanor will be monitored as well as the accuracy of your documentation. This is an extremely stressful process for everyone involved, including the applicant themselves and any family members who may be dependent on them. At Mevorah Law Offices LLC, our lawyers work with clients in every area of immigration law. Not only are they experienced in applying for asylum, but they also understand the pressure that the process can put on an individual and we look to alleviate that legal stress. If you are applying for asylum or any other area of immigration law, contact our knowledgeable Illinois immigration lawyers at 630-932-9100 for help.
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