Every year, thousands of people come to the United States in need of protection because they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Our Connecticut immigration attorneys have experience assisting clients from all over the world in their pursuit for a safe place for themselves and their children.
Asylum is a form of protection that allows individuals who are in the United States to remain here, provided that they meet the definition of a refugee and are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum, and eventually to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
Those found eligible for asylum are permitted to remain in the United States. If you are fleeing persecution or, since your arrival in the United States, conditions in your country of origin have drastically changed and you may face persecution when you return because of your membership in a particular group (political, ethnic, racial, religious), please contact our office. Our immigration lawyers can help.
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The two main ways of obtaining asylum in the United States are through the affirmative process and through the defensive process.
In the affirmative asylum process, individuals who are physically present in the United States, regardless of how they got here and regardless of their current immigration status, may apply for asylum.
They do so “affirmatively” by submitting an application to USCIS. In keeping with the idea that a genuine asylum-seeker should present himself/herself to authorities “without delay,” asylum-seekers must apply for asylum within one year from the date of last arrival in the United States, unless they can show changed circumstances that materially affect their eligibility or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing, and that they filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.
It is important to note that affirmative asylum applicants are almost never detained. They are free to live in the U.S. pending the completion of their asylum processing with USCIS and, if found ineligible by USCIS, then with an Immigration Judge. Normally, an affirmative asylum applicant is interviewed by USCIS within 43 days of application and, if not approved, is referred by USCIS to an Immigration Judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for further and de novo consideration. The time period is somewhat longer if the applicant does not reside near one of the eight Asylum Offices and an Asylum Officer is required to go to a distant District Office to conduct the interview. Asylum applicants referred to an Immigration Judge for such processing are also not detained.
If an affirmative application for asylum is denied, then it is referred to an Immigration judge for reconsideration. Also, if a person has not filed for asylum and is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an application for asylum can be made in front of an Immigration Judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Whenever an application for asylum is presented before an Immigration Judge, it is called a defensive application. That is, applicants request asylum as a defense against removal from the United States. Immigration Judges (IJs) hear such cases in adversarial (court-room-like) proceedings: the IJ is the judge that hears the applicant’s claim and also hears any concerns about the validity of the claim raised by the Government, which is represented by an attorney. The IJ then makes a determination of eligibility.
Please consult with an experienced immigration attorney to analyze your goals and situation and advise you on your eligibility to obtain asylum in the United States.