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Immigrants who are at risk of serious harm if they return to their country may be eligible for asylum. Our firm frequently represents applicants for asylum before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Immigration Courts. In addition to representing applicants who fear harm due to political opinions, our firm has extensive experience in applications based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and domestic violence.
To qualify for asylum, an immigrant must demonstrate that he or she has a “well founded” fear of very serious harm. A one-in-ten chance of harm is generally viewed as providing a well founded reason to fear harm. If an immigrant has suffered serious harm in the past, the law presumes it will happen again. The harm must be carried out either by agents of a government or by private people from whose actions the government will not protect the immigrant. The immigrant must prove that his or her characteristics–race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group–are a central reason he or she is targeted for harm. Generally, the immigrant must prove that there is not a safe place within his or her own country in which to relocate. Finally, an application for asylum must be filed within one year of entry to the United States or by April 1, 1998, whichever is later. Important exceptions apply to this rule, such as where an immigrant has suffered from mental health issues as a result of past harm or there has been a recent change of circumstances.
Applications for asylum must generally be filed with DHS for applicants who are not in removal proceedings. DHS conducts an interview at an Asylum Office before a specially trained officer. Interviews usually take place 30 days after filing. If the application is approved, the immigrant immediately receives a work permit and may apply for a green card one year later. If the application is not approved, and the immigrant lacks lawful status, he will be placed in deportation proceedings. An Immigration Judge may review the asylum application and will render a new decision.
Applications for asylum require extensive documentation and legal argument. The attorneys of the Law Office of Robert L. Lewis have extensive experience with applications for asylum before DHS and the Immigration Courts. Our compassionate attorneys can help you share your experience and request protection from the United States government. For more information, please call for an appointment.