Who is Eligible to Apply?
Foreigners can win Asylum and remain in the United States if they will suffer persecution (significant harm) if returned to their home country. The harm that they fear must be beyond mere punishment or an arrest. Also, the harm must be caused by people the government cannot or will not oppose or by the government itself.
These persons cannot return to their home country because they have been harmed in the past or fear being harmed in the future on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. A foreigner can apply directly for asylum with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. If the case is not approved, and they are not in lawful status at the time of that decision, the foreigner will have a second opportunity to apply for asylum in Immigration Court.
Similarly, a person who is placed directly in Immigration Court proceedings, because they are illegally in the United States, can defend against deportation by filing asylum.
Only persons who are inside the United States can apply for asylum. Although the law says that a person must apply for asylum within the first year after entering the United States, there are important exceptions to this rule.
Why Won’t They Believe Me? What is Credibility?
Asylum is one of the most difficult immigration benefits to obtain because the applicant is desperately trying to forget past events, but they can win asylum only by describing those past horrors, clearly and in great detail, to government officers.
An asylum applicant should NEVER:
- Overstate the facts to make the past seem worse than it actually was
- Give information if the real answer is unknown
- Avoid looking directly at the person speaking
If the USCIS Asylum Office or the Immigration Judge denies asylum because of credibility, the foreigner can resubmit the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals. While the case is with the Board, the foreigner remains legally in the U.S. with a work permit.
Can I Win Asylum After the One-Year Deadline?
Foreigners can file for asylum AFTER the first year of their arrival, if changed circumstances affect their eligibility or extraordinary circumstances caused the delay.
Blandon Law has won asylum for the following persons:
- A Colombian woman who applied 16 years after entering the U.S., based on converting religion
- A Honduran gay man who came out and applied 7 years after entering the U.S.
Changed circumstances include situations where a person fears returning to their country AFTER they have been in the U.S. for some time. For example, persons who come out as gay fear return to a country where homosexuals are murdered AFTER they come out as gay in the US. Also, persons who stop practicing the Muslim religion AFTER they enter the US fear returning to a country where apostates are killed.
Extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing include the applicant’s serious illness; death or serious illness of a member of their immediate family; and hiring an attorney who told the person not to file for asylum.
Children can usually file asylum any time before turning 18 years of age because they are not considered to have the mental ability to make their decisions. So, a young person can win asylum even if they have lived in the US for more than a decade.