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How Asylum Applications Work

By Glendale Personal Injury Attorney on June 30, 2023

Young Black and Middle Eastern women having fun chatting about something during English lesson for immigrants

Asylum is protection granted by our nation to persons who have left their native country to escape persecution. The asylum application process was mandated by the Refugee Act of 1980. You can only apply for asylum if you are physically present in the United States and not a U.S. citizen. There are two types of asylum applications:

  • Affirmative: If you are not in removal proceedings, you may affirmatively apply for asylum through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Defensive: If you are in removal proceedings, you may defensively apply for asylum by filing an application with an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) within the Department of Justice.

What Are Asylum Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for asylum, you must have suffered persecution or fear you will suffer persecution in your home country based on:

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

Currently, the option to file Form I-589 online is only available for certain affirmative asylum applicants. You may not file this form if you:

  • Have already submitted a Form I-589 that is still pending with USCIS
  • Are among the category of applicants who must currently file by mail with the Asylum Vetting Center per USCIS instructions
  • Are in proceedings in immigration court or before the Board of Immigration Appeals
  • Are an unaccompanied alien child and are in removal proceedings

What Is the Asylum Interview and Hearing Process?

To apply for asylum, you must be physically present in the U.S. and apply within one year of your arrival. You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your application. Once your asylum application has been accepted, you will receive notice of receipt and a biometrics services appointment, begin security vetting, and receive the date of your interview, during which you will demonstrate that you have credible fear for your safety if removed from the U.S.

Your biographical information will be sent to the FBI and other law enforcement databases for a background check. Your fingerprints will be taken, sent to law enforcement, and used to identify you during the interview process. In your interview, an asylum officer will consider your application and testimony and decide whether to grant asylum. If your application is denied, you have the right to file an appeal.

What Are the Common Issues With Application for Asylum?

The main issue with applying for asylum is the growing backlog of asylum seekers. The number of people seeking this type of protection has exceeded the capacity of government agencies to process applications quickly and fairly. Without representation, many asylum seekers are unable to complete the paperwork necessary to file a formal application. Asylum backlogs vary by immigration court locations. California and New York have the largest caseloads. These two states accounted for 48% of all asylum cases decided on their merits during FY 2022, according to TRAC Immigration. At the end of that fiscal year, more than 100,000 asylum cases were pending in immigration courts.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Apply for Asylum?

Consulting with a Glendale immigration attorney before applying for asylum can increase your chances of success. We can assist you in preparing the petition and ensure all necessary documentary evidence is available. Our immigration lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions asked during your interview and accompany you to your interview to help ensure success. If your application is denied, we can prepare your case for appeal and accompany you to the hearing.

Contact Aratta Law Firm at (818) 550-1111.

Posted in: Immigration