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If you are a non-citizen in the United States and you cannot return to your home country because you are likely to be mistreated, you might be able to stay in the U.S. Applying for asylum is an option for people who have a well-founded fear of persecution.

Like all immigration matters, the asylum process is complex. Making a mistake could delay your application or even lead to rejection. Working with an attorney with experience in immigration law could help you avoid preventable errors. Contact a Cicero asylum lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Circumstances that Merit an Asylum Application

Asylum is protection available to people who face torture or other forms of persecution in their home country and are unwilling to return. An individual seeking asylum must have substantial documentation supporting their contention that he or she was or would be subject to persecution.

The U.S. only grants asylum in response to specific forms of mistreatment. For example, a well-founded fear of severe economic hardship cannot support an asylum application. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that he or she would face persecution, including physical torture, imprisonment, rape, or other severe consequences due to his or her:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political affiliation
  • Ethnic identity
  • Inclusion in a specific social group, such as the gay community

An asylum seeker must prove that the persecution was or would be carried out by an official government body such as the police or military, or that the persecutors belong to a non-government entity that the government is unable or unwilling to control.

An asylum seeker must provide substantial documentation establishing that he or she was subject to persecution or that their fear of persecution is reasonable. A proactive Cicero asylum attorney could help the applicant compile evidence and present a persuasive application.

Who May Apply for Asylum?

According to 8 United States Code § 1158, a person can apply for asylum from within the U.S. or at a port of entry. Applicants who did not enter the country legally could still apply for asylum, and immigration status does not affect their applications’ approval chances.

Applicants must file their asylum petitions within one year of entry to the U.S. Someone who misses the deadline might still be able to seek asylum if an exception applies. An experienced asylum lawyer in Cicero could review an applicant’s circumstances and determine whether he or she could file late under one of the legal exceptions.

A criminal history does not bar an applicant from filing for asylum, but depending on the crime and other circumstances, it could affect the outcome of the application. However, lying about a criminal history could doom an application regardless of the surrounding circumstances. Fully disclosing a criminal history is the best strategy when applying for asylum.

Understanding the Asylum Process

There are multiple processes for seeking asylum. The appropriate process depends on the applicant’s immigration status, how long he or she has been in the country, and other factors.

Affirmative Process

An applicant already in the country begins the asylum process by filing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies the request, the applicant is entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Asylum Merits Interview

If an applicant applies for asylum at a border crossing, he or she might have an interview with a USCIS agent who determines whether the applicant has a credible fear of persecution. If the agent agrees the applicant has a credible fear of persecution, the applicant might receive a notice to appear before an EOIR immigration judge.

Defensive Process

If the U.S. initiates removal (deportation) proceedings, a person could defend a removal order by seeking asylum. He or she must prove a credible fear of persecution and supply all the documentation other asylum-seekers must provide.

EOIR Hearing

If an applicant is referred for an EOIR hearing, it means an immigration judge will listen to the arguments supporting his or her request for asylum and decide based on the information presented. It is critical for an applicant to have a skilled Cicero asylum attorney representing them at the hearing before the immigration judge.

Contact a Cicero Asylum Attorney to Begin the Process

If you are afraid of what might happen to you or your family if you return to your homeland, asylum could offer you a chance to stay in the U.S. and eventually become a citizen. However, the U.S. scrutinizes asylum applications and requires substantial proof that persecution is a credible fear.

A Cicero asylum lawyer at Godoy Law Office could help you make your application as strong as possible, enhancing your chances of being granted asylum. Call today to discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable legal professionals.

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