One of the main forms of relief available to people in immigration court is asylum. In order to be eligible for asylum, a person must fear returning to his home country because he believes he will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Persecution is defined as physical or mental harm or suffering that goes beyond mere harassment.
The benefits of applying for asylum are significant. For example, a person who receives asylum may be able to bring family members into the U.S. as dependents to his asylum claim. In addition, a person will be eligible to receive his green card one year after being granted asylum. Finally, an asylum applicant is eligible to apply for a work permit 150 days after submitting his asylum application.
In order to apply for asylum in immigration court, the applicant must submit a form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. This form requires the applicant to provide his basic personal information and state the reasons he is afraid of returning to his home country. Generally, it is also a good idea for an applicant to provide a written statement describing in detail any harm he experienced in his home country.
Although applying for asylum may appear simple, there are many reasons to hire an experienced attorney to handle an asylum claim. For instance, a person is generally only allowed to apply for asylum within a year of having entered the U.S. Many persons in immigration court, however, have spent much more than a year in the United States. If this is the case for a particular asylum applicant, an attorney may be able to argue that an exception to the one-year rule applies in the particular circumstances.
In addition to showing that he is afraid of returning to his home country, an asylum applicant will likely need to demonstrate several other items during the course of his case. Specifically, he will need to show that there is no place in his home country where he could go in order to be safe from persecution. He may also have to show that conditions have not changed for the better in his home country such that he no longer has a reason for being afraid. For these reasons, it is important that an asylum applicant hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with the law in each of these areas. Please contact John L. Wheaton, Attorney at Law at 206-829-8214 to set up a consultation or visit the government page on asylum.