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If you fear returning to your home country, you may be eligible to seek asylum in the United States. However, U.S. immigration laws and procedures are complex and mistakes, missing information, or missed deadlines could ruin your chances of success.

For that reason, many people choose to work with an experienced Wheaton asylum lawyer. An immigration attorney could assist with seeking asylum or refugee status a well as applying for legal permanent resident status once an asylum application is approved. En Español.

What is Asylum?

Asylum is a protected status for foreign nationals who fear persecution in their home country based on certain protected characteristics. Individuals must apply for asylum and once it is granted, they may later apply for status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and possibly for citizenship. A Wheaton asylum lawyer could explain the possibilities and requirements involved.

Refugee status and asylum are similar in nature. The key difference is that asylum status is for those already in the U.S. while refugee status is granted to people currently outside the U.S.

Eligibility for Asylum

The first step toward seeking asylum is to determine eligibility.


Applicants seeking asylum must have been in the U.S. for no more than one year, unless they are able to show a change of circumstances affecting eligibility or an extremely good reason for the delay in filing an application. For instance, if conditions have changed in the home country or an individual had been included in a pending asylum application as a dependent but then lost that status, these circumstances might enable an applicant who has been in the U.S. longer than one year retain eligibility for asylum. If an individual was working with an attorney who agreed to take designated actions on his or her behalf and the attorney failed to fulfill legal or ethical responsibilities, that could also provide grounds to accept an asylum application from someone who has been in the U.S for over a year.

How is an Immigration Applicant Considered Persecuted?

To be granted asylum, applicants must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on past experience or future expectations. The persecution could come from the government or from outside the government if it is from a source the government does not or cannot control.

Persecution provides grounds for granting asylum status must be based on one of the following:

  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Race

The list of particular social groups that qualify expands periodically, so a Wheaton asylum lawyer could argue for inclusion in a persecuted social group if no other categories apply in a case.

Applying for Asylum in Wheaton

Applicants should file Form I-589, Application for Asylum, within one year of arrival in the U.S. Spouses and unmarried minor children may be included on the same application. Supporting documentation and photographs of applicants should be included with the application, so it may be helpful to have an asylum lawyer in Wheaton assist with the application to ensure that the request is supported by adequate evidence.

An applicant may also request asylum during removal proceedings. However, the process becomes adversarial if an applicant asserts an asylum request as a defense to removal rather than coming forward to affirmatively request asylum.

After the application is received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency would issue a receipt and schedule an interview. The agency could issue a determination or refer the matter to an immigration judge.

Consult a Asylum Attorney for the Legal Help You Need

Asylum status could help secure future opportunities for those who cannot return to their home countries. However, U.S. agencies receive many requests for asylum, so they scrutinize applications carefully.

Working with a Wheaton asylum lawyer during the process could help ensure that requirements are fulfilled and justification of the need for asylum is clearly evident. To learn more about how an attorney could assist in your situation, call now.

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