Asylum lawyers in New Orleans
What Is Asylum?
Asylum may be granted to people who are already in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. If you are granted asylum, you will be allowed to live and work in the United States. You also will be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum. You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your own asylum application if your spouse or children are in the United States.
Asylum status or refugee status?
Asylum status and refugee status are closely related. They differ only in the place where a person asks for the status. Asylum is requested in the United States, refugee status is requested outside of the United States. However, all people who are granted asylum must meet the definition of a refugee. If you do not qualify for asylum, but fear being tortured upon returning to your homeland, you can apply for consideration under the Torture Convention. Congress has restricted applications for asylum that are submitted more than one year after arrival in the US, except if there are changed or extraordinary circumstances.
The asylum process
There are two ways that a person may apply for asylum. However, under both processes, individuals must prove a “well-founded fear” of persecution in their home country as discussed above.
Affirmative asylum process
An individual can apply through the affirmative asylum process if they entered the United States with a visa or as an unaccompanied child are physically present in the United States, regardless of how they entered the country within one year of arrival. Individuals can also apply for asylum at a port of entry. In the affirmative asylum process, a USCIS asylum officer determines whether the individual will be granted asylum in the United States. The asylum seeker is either granted asylum or referred to an immigration judge. In the case it is referred, the asylum seeker will have another opportunity to prove their eligibility before an immigration judge.
Defensive asylum process
An individual can apply through the defensive asylum process as a defense against removal after they have been apprehended by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or at any port of entry without a valid visa. Through the defensive asylum process, individuals seek asylum in immigration court where a judge decided whether or not the applicant will be granted asylum.
Asylum - FAQs
Can a refugee or asylee go back to their home country?
It is not advised for asylum applicants or asylees to return to their home country. A refugee or asylee is a person who avails themselves of the protection of the United States, that fears returning to their home country with a fear of future persecution or harm in that nation.
A person with a pending asylum application may apply for a travel document only for brief and emergency travel abroad. Without prior approval, an open asylum application will be considered abandoned by USCIS.
How long is the asylum application process in the United States?
It varies by jurisdiction. USCIS has eleven asylum offices nationwide and every office has its own unique case load. The asylum office schedules their interviews based on a protocol established by USCIS.
In some jurisdictions, applicants have been waiting for many years, while other applicants are called for an interview within a year.
Are asylum seekers allowed to work in the US?
This is currently changing law and may be possible depending on the type of case. The short answer is that after a certain number of days, with a properly filed pending application, an applicant may apply for an employment authorization document. The work permit may be approved for two years and can be used for seeking employment only. It also should be noted that the work authorization card cannot be used to travel or reenter the US.
Make sure to speak with an attorney before any plans for travel during a pending asylum case or about how to apply for work authorization.
What happens if the asylum office does not grant asylum after the interview?
It depends upon the applicant immigration status. If the applicant has a valid immigration status by the time the decision is made, he would be permitted to stay in the US under that status. Conversely, if the applicant does not have a valid immigration status, the case is referred to immigration court, where the applicant will have a new opportunity to present his asylum claim before an immigration judge.
Contact our lawyers if you are applying for U.S. citizenship and naturalization.
With the help of our successful legal team, asylum seekers can quickly and correctly file for asylum. Our firm can also assist applicants with employment authorization issues, filing for permanent residence, and helping family members come to the United States.