Asylum and Refugee Law
Being an asylum seeker is different from being a refugee, because a person seeking asylum is already in the United States.
The process for obtaining asylum in the United States is a fairly difficult one. To begin with you have to prove that you have experienced persecution or mistreatment in your homeland and/or that you fear persecution upon your return. “Persecution” is a term of art and too complicated to describe in depth in this brief summary. Suffice it to say that it must be much more than mere discrimination or mistreatment.
Moreover, even if you have suffered violence in your homeland, the acts will not constitute persecution for asylum purposes unless the persecutor was motivated by your race, your religion, your nationality, your political opinion, or your particular social group. In other words, if you were attacked and brutally injured by people who merely did so because they wanted your money or your property, or because of general wartime conditions, asylum would not be applicable.
The first step for applying for asylum is an interview at the Asylum Office. This is a non-adversarial interview in which you will be interviewed by a member of the USCIS who will attempt to determine whether your claim is genuine. They will look for discrepancies between your asylum application and your testimony to determine whether your story is truthful or not. They will also be searching to see whether you have submitted corroborating materials to support your claim.
Following your interview you will receive a decision by the asylum office either granting your case or referring it to court. (Note that if you are in legal status, you will receive a grant, a request for further information, or a straight denial). If your case is granted, you will have two years within which to apply for close family members. If your case is referred to court, you will appear before an Immigration Judge in an adversarial proceeding in which the government will be represented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Unless you can succeed in your case, you will be ordered removed from the country.
If you are ordered removed from the United States, you have the option to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. From there, there is always recourse to the federal court of appeals for your jurisdiction.
I have represented clients seeking asylum from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the former Soviet Union in courtroom hearings in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Arlington, Charlottesville, North Carolina, and Newark, New Jersey, and am willing to use my expertise to help you in your case.
Interpreters can be provided upon request
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