Many people facing persecution in foreign countries have sought refuge from the situation in the United States. In the immigration system, such refuge is referred to as “asylum” and there are specific requirements to qualify for this type of immigration path. The following are some brief answers to common questions regarding asylum in the U.S.
How Does A Person Start The Asylum Process?
The asylum process begins with a form called the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. These forms can be obtained at any entry point to the U.S. and you can apply at no cost. You should ensure the application is completed as thoroughly and accurately as possible and it is wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can walk you through the application process. In about six weeks after you turn in your application, you will have to go to an asylum office and undergo an interview regarding the persecution in your home country. The office will make a decision based on your application and interview.
Who Can Apply?
You can apply for possible asylum whether you are just now arriving in the United States or you are already residing in the U.S. Immigration status does not affect your ability to apply for asylum and you can apply even if you are present in the U.S. unlawfully. However, you must submit your application within the first year of being in the U.S. unless you can prove that extraordinary circumstances prohibited you from doing so.
What Counts As “Persecution” For Asylum?
Though immigration laws specifically mention the word “persecution,” the laws do not provide any specific and definitive definition of the term. Courts have held that many different harms and acts can be viewed as persecution, though have also ruled the acts must rise above simple harassment or unpleasantness. Instead, the harm or fear of harm should be offensive or even extreme. Some acts that commonly constitute persecution include the following:
- Violence or threats of violence;
- Human rights violations such as slavery or torture;
- Unjustified and unlawful detention;
- Severe economic deprivation;
- Being required to participate in unlawful activities;
- Forced abortions or involuntary sterilization (or harm for refusing to do so).
There are many other acts that may constitute persecution, though the persecutor must be either the government of your home country or another group that cannot be controlled or stopped by the government. Finally, you must demonstrate that the persecution is connected to your race, nationality, religion, social status, or political affiliation.
Contact A Florida Immigration Lawyer For Help As Soon As Possible
If you have questions or concerns regarding political asylum in the U.S., your first call should be to a highly skilled immigration attorney who understands the entire asylum process and how to stand up for your rights. The Law Offices of Alex T. Barak, P.A. has helped many individuals with a wide range of immigration matters. If you would like more information on how we can assist you, please call (954) 399-7778 today.