by Elizabeth R. Blandon

The following information does not guarantee success in any particular case, but is intended to give our readers information on what is possible under current immigration law. Asylum is an obligation to protect foreigners who may be harmed in their home country because of their political opinion, gender, race, religion, or status in a social group. It allows a person to remain in the United States legally, obtain work authorization and begin a path to residency and citizenship.

Q: Can persons who entered the United States illegally obtain asylum?

A: Absolutely yes. Whether the person crosses the border illegally, comes aboard a flight with fraudulent documents or enters in any other way without authorization, she can still apply for asylum. Because asylum is granted to an entire family, the illegal status of some members does not affect that they will all become legal if the case is approved.

Q: Do asylees have to be from certain countries?

A: No. The Firm has won asylum cases for applicants from countries where there is apparently no civil strife including Argentina, Albania (which is a European nation) and India. Of course, many asylees come from war-torn nations such as Colombia and Venezuela.

Q: What if I applied for asylum and Immigration denied my case?

A: A denial before the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) means a referral to Immigration Court. The author represents clients before the Immigration Court regularly and wins cases that have been denied by CIS. The Firm has also won appeals on cases that were previously denied at the Immigration Court level and at the Board of Immigration Appeals level. For the last type of case, The author makes both written and oral legal arguments in front of a panel of judges.

Q: What if I entered the United States over a year ago?

A: Although there is a one-year deadline to apply for asylum, there are many exceptions to this rule and it is vital to speak to an immigration professional about whether any may apply to you. In one case, the Firm won asylum for a woman who entered the United States twenty years earlier.

Q: Can someone with two citizenships obtain asylum?

A: That depends on many facts. For example in one case a Venezuelan citizen had the possibility of obtaining Italian citizenship because of his grandfather. However, at Immigration Court, the author followed the law and the facts and convinced the Court that the Venezuelan national should be granted asylum. This was not a single incident; the Firm has won asylum cases for dual nationals before.