A person may apply for asylum if they have already entered the United States and want to file for refugee status. The definition of a refugee is someone who is unwilling or unable to return their home country because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based on their political opinion, religion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group. The difference between an Application for Asylum and a Refugee Application is that asylum is applied for in the United States while refugee status is applied for outside the country.

There is a strict one year deadline from your last entry into the United States to file your Application for Asylum, as discussed in more detail below. If you fear being tortured upon returning to your homeland and do not otherwise qualify for asylum, you may still be eligible for relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. This relief is called Withholding of Removal and its burden of proof is higher than that for an Application for Asylum.

If you are granted asylum, you are considered an Asylee. As an Asylee, you will be eligible to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum. You also will be allowed to live and work in the United States before and while your Asylee based Permanent Residency Application is pending. You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your own asylum application, as long as they are also in the United States.

Eligibility and Application Procedure

When applying for asylum in the U.S., you need to request for asylum at a port-of-entry, or file an asylum application within one year of your last arrival in the country. Your application for asylum may be accepted after more than one year if there were extraordinary circumstances for the delay, such as you were seriously sick, or if the conditions in your country have changed, and those changes of country conditions affected your eligibility for asylum. Moreover, you may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, i.e., it does not matter whether you are legally present or not in the United States when you file your asylum application.

As discussed above, your qualification for asylum is dependant on being defined as a refugee, i.e., a person who is unable or unwilling to return their home country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution based on their political opinion, religion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group. After filing your application for asylum, the information you provide on your application, along with supporting evidence will be reviewed by an Asylum Officer. The Asylum Officer will then interview you and along with your documentary evidence, the officer will decide whether you are eligible for asylum. Asylum Officers will do one of three things: 1. grant your asylum, 2. deny your asylum; or 3. refer the case to an Immigration Judge for a final decision.

Therefore, if you are not successful at your asylum interview it does not necessarily mean your case is over; you can still be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in Immigration Court. If this happens, an Immigration Judge will hear and decide your asylum case. If an asylum applicant is illegally in the United States and found ineligible for asylum, the Immigration Judge will also enter a Removal Order against the denied asylum applicant.

How Do I File an Application for Asylum?

The Law Offices of Nishan C. Mahendran, P.A. will be pleased to process your Application for Asylum on behalf of you and your family. Our law office will carefully analyze your asylum case and make recommendations on the most appropriate process for you and your family to pursue. We then assist with preparing documents and letters, continuing the asylum case until the principal applicant and family members receive their Asylee Status, and ultimately Permanent Residence. Please contact our office to schedule an in person appointment or telephone consultation to discuss your Asylum matter.

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