Majors Law Firm P.C.

USA Immigration Explained

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Asylum Application

Asylum is a special protection available to a person who fears persecution in his or her home country on account any of the following grounds.

·        Race

·        Religion

·        Nationality

·        Political Opinion

·        Membership in a Particular Social Group

The grounds for seeking asylum are limited to these bases; the mere fact that there is an ongoing war or an uninhabitable situation in one’s home country will not make a person eligible for this immigration benefit.

How to Apply for Asylum in the United States

There are two methods of application for Asylum in the United States, either through affirmative process or defensive process.

“Affirmative” is when an applicant, on his or her initiative, submits an application before removal (deportation) proceedings have commenced. A “defensive” application occurs when removal proceedings have already started and an applicant submits the application as a defense against his or her removal. The main practical difference between these two is that the first one takes place at the USCIS office and the latter at the immigration court. If an officer adjudicating an affirmative petition does not grant asylum, the case is referred to the immigration judge for removal (deportation) proceedings. At that point the case becomes defensive.

You may apply for asylum status no matter how you came to the United States. Your current immigration status has no relevance to your ability to apply. Applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the UN Convention against Torture must generally be filed within one year of entry into the United States with some limited exceptions.

If an application is not submitted within one year of the applicant’s arrival in the United States, the applicant is barred from obtaining asylum unless certain exceptions apply. However, the applicant can be eligible for other forms of relief such as Withholding of Removal. This is a less favorable type of relief than asylum because it is not considered to be a legal status. It does not pave the way to a Green Card or citizenship, nor does it grant a travel permit. The only collateral benefit associated with Withholding of Removal is a work permit, which is subject to renewal.

When you apply for asylum status, you may include your spouse and children on the application. According to the USCIS, your children may only be included on your application if they are under the age of 21 and unmarried. There is no filing fee for submitting this application.

Working in the United States under Asylum Status

You may only apply to work in the United States once 150 days have passed since you filed your Asylum application. There is no fee attached to your first EAD application.

Bringing your Family to the United States

Once you are granted asylum status in the United States, you may file a petition to bring your spouse and children to America. You may include any children under the age of 21 and unmarried. You are granted two years to file this petition after the USCIS grants you asylum status.

Applying for a Green Card

After the approval of your asylum in the United States, an Asylee (a person who is granted it) must wait one year before applying for a green card by filing an adjustment of status application. Unlike the asylum application, each member of your family will need to submit a separate green card application. Four years after receiving a Green Card, an Asylee will be eligible for naturalization.

Please contact our immigration law firm for additional discussion of this category and alternative options.

[Note: Please consult with an attorney specializing in Immigration & Nationality law for professional advice in specific situations.]

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