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The right to seek asylum protections in the United States has been recently under scrutiny. However, the right to seek asylum is a right that most non-citizens fleeing violence have upon entering the US. Please keep in mind that there is a time limit for an asylum application, and an untimely filed asylum application may be dismissed because it was untimely. In this article we will discuss the following:

  1. What is asylum?
  1. What is the difference between asylum and refugee status?
  1. What is the time limit to file for asylum?
  1. Who should apply for asylum?
  1. When should someone seek asylum?
  1. How do you apply for asylum?
  1. What can I do if I have further questions?

Asylum is an ever evolving area of law inside immigration law. Depending on which administration is in power at the time, asylum could be more or less permissive. This is because the Attorney General for the United States can decide asylum cases. For instance, during the Trump presidency, the then Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the Matter of A-B- decision. 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018). This decision muddled the waters of asylum eligibility for a myriad of individuals. If you have questions about your asylum eligibility, we recommend that you call our office to schedule an intake with an asylum attorney that can discuss your options with you.

1. What is asylum?

First of all, it is important to know that an asylum applicant has the burden of showing her eligibility for asylum. This means that the government needs to show only that the person applying does not qualify for asylum. So it is important to answer the question, what is asylum?  

Asylum is a form of protection that the US Government may choose to give a noncitizen who is fleeing their country. The person needs to show that they fear returning to their home country because they fear they will be harmed based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This means that people who are actually not afraid or are escaping generalized violence generally may not have a valid asylum claim.  

Additionally, it is important to know that, even if the applicant has a well founded fear of persecution in their home country, they may not qualify for asylum because asylum is a discretionary relief. This means that it is up to the discretion of the Attorney General who can or cannot get asylum in this country. Generally, the people making this determination are either immigration judges in removal (AKA deportation) proceedings, Board of Immigration Appeals judges on appeals from removal proceedings, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services personnel on affirmative applications, or the AG’s office themselves.

2. What is the difference between asylum and refugee status?

The main difference is that the asylum seeker is seeking a benefit from the government and they are proactively trying to get that benefit after they have entered the country. Meanwhile, a refugee is granted that status outside of the Country. The first prerequisite is that the Refugee and their family be in a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camp. While in this camp, potential refugee recipients will be selected and background checks will be performed on them. Once the whole process goes through, the refugees will receive a travel document to enter the US with refugee status.

3. What is the time limit to file for asylum?

An application for asylum has a time limit. Generally, the application time limit to apply for asylum is one year after the applicant has entered the US. If the applicant waits for more than one (1) year, they may be at risk of losing out their application due to late filing. Once the applicant applies, it could take a while for interviews to be granted. There are a huge number of people applying for asylum, and this means that the applicant’s asylum interview could take some years to come about.

If the applicant has missed the one year deadline, they may still be eligible to apply for asylum. However, they would need to prove a change in circumstances that led to their late application. Additionally, if the applicant has a change of circumstance that lead them to apply for asylum, don’t dilly-dally. Waiting too long (or believing that this change of circumstance will give you another year), may cause the applicant to miss out on a second window to asylum.

4. Who should apply for asylum?

People who are currently in the USA who have a fear of returning to their country of origin (or last habitual residence) because of fear that they will be persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

5. When should someone seek asylum?

Ideally, the applicant should begin the asylum process as soon as possible upon entering the USA if they have a fear of returning to their country of origin. As mentioned earlier, there is a one year deadline for applications.

6. How do you apply for asylum?

The applicant needs to apply for asylum by filling out form I-589. Please read the instructions carefully prior to applying.  

7. What can I do if I have further questions?

Call our office at (630) 324-6666, or schedule a consultation. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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