Asylum in the United States

Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Asylum in the United States

Asylum in the United States

Immigration Q&A with Attorney Abigail Peterson

Question: I brought my family to the United States because things are very dangerous in our home country. What is asylum and should we apply for it?

Answer: Asylum is a remedy sought by thousands of people every year in the United States who fear persecution in their home country. If you believe your family was persecuted, or may be persecuted upon your return, due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion then you may apply for asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition to documenting the reasons for the persecution and the actual past persecution or likelihood of future persecution, you must also demonstrate that the government of your home country is unable or unwilling to protect you. Please note that you should apply for asylum within your first year of coming to the United States. If you apply one year or more after entry, you must be able to document either changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility or extraordinary circumstances related to the delay in filing.

If you decide to apply for asylum, your application will be approved, denied or referred to an Immigration Judge for further review. If your case is referred to an Immigration Judge, you must appear in court on the dates set by the government. If you live in Chattanooga, your case will likely be assigned to the Immigration Court in Atlanta, Georgia. In most cases, you will be eligible to apply for work authorization after your case has been pending 150 days.

If your case is approved, you and your family may apply for employment authorization and, after one year, lawful permanent residency (green card). If your case is denied and you are not in lawful status, you will either be granted voluntary departure or ordered deported. The likelihood of success varies greatly and due to the complexity of asylum cases, it is advisable to seek an attorney. As an example of success rates, below is a chart of statistics released by the Department of Justice regarding asylum cases handled by the Immigration Court in 2012 for persons from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador:

Received Granted Denied Abandoned Withdrawn Other
Mexico 9,206 126 1,395 138 1,906 2,335
Honduras 1,257 93 429 65 158 508
Guatemala 2,895 222 911 159 849 1,815
El Salvador 2,991 191 1,126 172 772 2,008

*A complete listing of statistics can be found at

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