Asylum is a means by which individuals who fear persecution if they return to their home country may be allowed to remain in the United States and, ultimately, become lawful permanent residents. Applications for asylum are either affirmative or defensive. An affirmative application is filed with USCIS before the alien is in removal proceedings. A defensive asylum application is one that is filed with the immigration court during removal proceedings. If you are granted asylum, other family members may be eligible for asylum status as derivative beneficiaries, even if they did not experience the persecution. After holding asylum status for one year, the alien is eligible to apply for a green card.
To qualify for asylum, you must be able to prove that you suffered persecution or have a fear of future persecution if you are returned to your country of origin. Additionally, your country's government must have inflicted the injury upon you, or alternatively, failed to prevent the persecution. The reason for the persecution must be primarily because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Except under rare circumstances, you must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States.
The case law for asylum, especially those based on membership in a particular social group, is constantly evolving. Unfortunately, immigration laws in the United States do not allow a grant of asylum for many people who legitimately fear a return to their country. Most social groups based on victimization of generalized crime, or those involving fear of gangs and gang violence, have been rejected by the courts. Similarly, claims based on domestic violence experienced in the applicant's home country are frequently denied due to lack of a recognized social group. Recently, however, there has been some success with domestic violence asylum applications based on the familial unit. Proper articulation of the social group is essential for these types of claims to have any chance of success.
A strong asylum application usually requires documentation of your confinement or injuries, affidavits from witnesses or others aware of your adverse treatment, medical documentation, Human Rights Reports from your country, and a well-written legal brief outlining the law as it applies to your case.
For more information, reach out to our Charlotte immigration lawyers today!