There has been a lot of talk in recent years about refugees requesting asylum in the United States. You may be wondering what that means and how it’s done.
According to the American Immigration Council, asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or arriving at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.”
Who qualifies as a refugee?
Refugees are people who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because they fear serious harm due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.
Bear in mind that the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees. The Refugee Act laid out two specific paths to obtain refugee status: from abroad as a resettled refugee or in the United States as an asylum seeker.
What happens if a refugee is granted asylum?
If you are granted asylum, most importantly, you’re protected from being returned to your country. You may also apply to work in the U.S., for a Social Security card, and request permission to travel overseas. In addition, you may petition to bring similarly threatened family members to the United States.
After one year as an asylee (a person granted asylum) you may apply for lawful permanent resident status. Once you become a permanent resident, you must wait five years to apply for citizenship.
Should I hire an immigration attorney?
While not absolutely necessary, having an immigration attorney specialized in asylum handling your application can make the process much easier and more efficient and considerably increase your chances of success.
Immigration law itself is incredibly hard to navigate. The application process is set separately from other U.S. laws, rules, and statutes by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which develops the necessary forms and procedures for such applications. Having an asylum lawyer with experience with the complex asylum process can result in a greater chance of success than doing it on your own.
How do I choose the right lawyer for asylum?
You will need a licensed immigration lawyer who knows and understands both the complexity of the immigration law and the entire asylum process. The American Immigration Council stresses that you should not hire an unlicensed attorney and that a notary, or “notario,” is not a licensed attorney for asylum, or any other immigration matter. If you have received any advice from a notary, please consult with a licensed attorney.
There are a variety of steps that need to be taken in order to apply and qualify for asylum. There are also different classifications of asylum — and now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the process has become even more complicated. An experienced immigration attorney, such as those at Farmer Law, can remove a lot of the worry associated with the process, ensure your safety, and increase the chances of your request being approved. Ready to get started? Contact Farmer Law today!