Category: Employment Authorization

Applying for Asylum? Should you?

This week, I will be traveling to Miami to represent a client in an asylum interview. In this post, I will be discussing eligibility for asylum in simple terms.  I will also provide a list of important resources one could use when applying for asylum.
Asylum law is the international community’s recognition that some individuals would be threatened if they were forced to return to their homeland. According to the High Commissioner of Human Rights, this practice is one of the oldest traditions in human history. National laws are used to establish eligibility for this form of protection. Under our laws, the process of establishing eligibility is a complicated one. An asylum seeker could apply for protection overseas, where he or she applies for asylum through an international agency. However, one a person is in the US, the Department of Homeland Security adjudicates these petitions.
To qualify as an asylum seeker, one must meet the definition of refugee under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The Act defines a refugee as :”any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. INA § 101(a)(42)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A).
It seems like such definition should encompass many categories and should be straightforward. It suffices to say that one of the most appealed petitions in immigration law is the petition for asylum I-589. Most of the immigration cases that reach circuit review around the United States involve asylum petitions. Many people believe that the application is a straightforward one. Sometimes, the application is such; however, when the threats are not crystallized or there is a fear of future harm, one should really hire an attorney. Most of these appeals involved applicants whose petitions were not clear enough to convince the adjudicator that they were harmed or would face harm if returned to their countries.  It is very important to consult an attorney before you apply, and if you can not afford one, please visit this link to find a free attorney in your state. Please do not apply on your own, and consult an attorney, specially since the chances of success are very low (see graph below).
So to answer the question above,  consult an attorney before you apply and do discuss other options if the attorney recommends against filing. Please comment if you have any questions.
Asylum Statistics
[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Judge Approves Asylum Clock Class Action Suit

Last week, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement in a law suit challenging EOIR and USCIS procedures regarding the asylum clock. The lawsuit challenged the procedures used by the two governmental agencies since, among other things, they did not give notice that the asylum clock was stopped. Under the law and  the regulations, the applicant could become eligible to receive an employment authorization document after 180 days had passed from the date of his application. However, such clock will stop, and the applicant will become ineligible for the “work permit” if he causes any delay in his case.  The settlement  gives guidelines to both USCIS and EOIR regarding notice. The new procedures make things like giving notice and synchronization of  the agencies’ procedures mandatory. 
The case name is B.H., et al. v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, et al. For a complete copy of the settlement agreement visit this link. I welcome this new policy. I have represented several asylum applicants that had to accept the “first available date” under the old policy even though they were truly not ready for their individual hearings. This new policy will ensure that there is some fairness, especially to one of the most vulnerable classes of immigrants.  Please comment or email me if you have any questions.