A person in the U.S. can apply for asylum if they are afraid to return to their home country for fear of being harmed or have previously been harmed because of their:

  • Political Opinion
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Nationality or
  • Belonging to a Particular Social group.

Affirmative Asylum Application

A person may file an asylum application with USCIS within in one year of their last entry into the U.S. There are some circumstances that could allow someone file an asylum application after one year of their last entry into the U.S. Upon filing the application, an asylum applicant will be interviewed by as asylum officer when it is their turn to be interviewed. The time between when an asylum applicant files an application and when they will be interviewed depends on the asylum office with jurisdiction over their case.

It is important to note that you can request for an earlier asylum interview by requesting the asylum office with jurisdiction over your case to place you on the short notice list. You should speak with your immigration attorney to find out more about the asylum short notice list.

In some unique circumstances, an asylum applicant may request for and get an expedited interview. Expedited interviews are discretionary and granted by asylum offices on a case-by-case basis.

Removal Proceedings

An individual can file for asylum before the Immigration judge either through defensive filing after the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA) or referral by the Asylum Office as explained above. Here, the Immigration judge will hear the case independent of the findings of the Asylum Office. An applicant has a second chance to argue their case and convince the judge that they are afraid of returning to their home country.

In some situations, an asylum applicant may be found ineligible for asylum despite a find of persecution in their home country. In these situations, the Immigration judge may grant Withholding of Removal (WOR) or Relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). You should speak with your Attorney about WOR and CAT.

An asylum applicant is entitled to an attorney (at no expense to the U.S. government) at any point during the asylum application. While no attorney can guarantee the success of an asylum claim, research shows that applicants with legal representation have better chances of success than applicants with no attorneys.

Nunc Pro Tunc Asylum Application

In some situations, a spouse or child of an asylee may lose their derivative asylee status. In these situations, the spouse or child cannot get a green card based on the asylee status. The derivative will have to file an asylum application in their own right known as the nunc pro tunc asylum application. 

Spouses and Children of Asylees

Once asylum is granted, an asylee can and should file for their spouse and children that were included on their asylum application. You can file for your family as soon as your asylum is granted. There are advantages to filing for your family as follow-to-join asylees. This is especially true for children who are above 21years old but were under the age of 21 when you filed your asylum application.

Refugee Travel Document

Asylees can also apply for Refugee Travel Documents on the day that they receive their asylum approval or grant. Asylees SHOULD NOT use the travel document to return to their home country.

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