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Seeking Asylum in the U.S.: Eligibility and Procedure

United States flag and a group of migrants at the border

Asylum is a form of protection granted to foreign nationals who are in the United States or at the border, allowing them to remain in the country if they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion in their home country. As you might expect, proving eligibility and gaining asylum is not a simple matter, and applicants find many hurdles standing between them and safe asylum in America. Read on for an overview of eligibility and procedures for obtaining asylum in the U.S. If you need help with asylum or other immigration legal matters, contact Queens Immigration Law to speak with an experienced New York immigration lawyer.

Eligibility Criteria for Asylum Seekers

To qualify for asylum in the United States, an individual must meet several criteria:

  • Well-founded Fear of Persecution: Applicants must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

  • Physical Presence in the U.S.: Individuals must be physically present in the United States or at a port of entry to apply for asylum.

  • Timely Application: The application for asylum must be filed within one year of the applicant’s arrival in the U.S., with some exceptions related to changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances.

Recent Changes to Asylum Law

Immigration laws and policies in the United States are subject to change, and recent years have seen significant modifications to the asylum process. Some of these changes may affect the procedure, eligibility, and adjudication of asylum claims. For instance, the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule creates a presumption that certain individuals who enter the United States through its southwest land border or adjacent coastal borders are ineligible for asylum unless they can demonstrate an exception to the rule or rebut the presumption. This rule is being challenged in the courts but is currently being applied by USCIS. Another recent rule requires affirmative asylum applicants to bring a qualified interpreter to their asylum interview if they are not fluent in English or wish to have their interview conducted in a language other than English. 

It’s crucial for applicants to stay informed about these developments, as they can impact the success of an asylum application. At Queens Immigration Law, we ensure our clients are up-to-date with the latest legal changes and how they might affect their cases.

The Asylum Application Process

The asylum application process involves several steps, each critical to the success of an applicant’s claim:

  1. Filing Form I-589: The first step is to file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within one year of arrival in the U.S.

  2. Fingerprinting and Background Check: After the application is filed, the applicant will receive an appointment for fingerprinting, which will be used for a background check.

  3. Interview: Applicants will be scheduled for an interview with an asylum officer, where they will have the opportunity to present their case, including any fears of returning to their home country.

  4. Decision: The asylum officer will make a decision on the case. If asylum is granted, the applicant can stay in the U.S. and may later apply for permanent residency. If the claim is denied, the applicant may be referred to immigration court for further proceedings.

Tips for Asylum Applicants

To help ensure your application is complete and persuasive, gather evidence in advance to support your application. Specifically, compile detailed documentation of persecution or fear of persecution, including any relevant reports, personal statements, and witness testimonies. Preparing for the interview can also help you perform well at this juncture. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their case in detail during the interview with the asylum officer, including specific instances of persecution or fear of persecution. Most importantly, seek legal representation. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can significantly increase the chances of a successful asylum claim. An attorney can help navigate the complex legal system, prepare the asylum application, and represent you in interviews and court proceedings.

How Queens Immigration Law Can Help

At Queens Immigration Law, we understand the intricacies of the U.S. asylum process and are dedicated to supporting our clients through every step of their journey. Our team is here to provide personalized legal guidance, from preparing your asylum application to representing you in interviews and court proceedings.

For help with your asylum claim, visa processing, deportation defense, or other immigration legal matters, call Queens Immigration Law today at 718-793-7800 in Queens or toll-free throughout New York and beyond at 800-339-0535.

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