10 Most Useful Knowledge on Asylum Application in the U.S.
Concise and accurate knowledge on asylum in the US that many clients do not understand or are misguided.
You do not have to have past persecution to win an asylum case."Past persecution" means you have suffered persecution in your home country due to one of the five protected grounds( political opinion, religion, membership in a particular social group, nationality or race). If that is case, you can apply for asylum in the US. However, if you did not suffer past persecution, you may still eligible for asylum if you now have reason to fear future persecution because of your activities in the US or other country after you left your home country.
many asylum applicants file asylum applications even they do not have any problems in their home country. Instead, they started activities in the US that will likely cause them trouble after they return to their home country. For example, some students may join churches that are considered "cult" in their home country; some may join a social group such as Falun Gong. If this happens to you, you should consult with experienced immigration lawyer immediately for advice and possible filing.
Some immigration consultants or even some lawyers may tend to fake your past persecution in order to boost your application. Very bad idea! Do not trust anyone who "create" your asylum declaration that is not based on truth. You will be subject to countless trouble or face life time bar to immigration benefits even if you later marry a US citizen.
You do not have to have an experienced asylum lawyer to help you but you better have oneAsylum application is not as simple as some of you may believe. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case, determine the strength and weakness; you may improve your chance with proper preparation. Most lawyers can do for you are done prior to the asylum interview. During the interview, lawyer's role is limited but critical sometimes. For example, if your response is not received well by the asylum officer, your lawyer may try to ask you in a different way so you have chance to correct yourself.
It is not a smart way to have your asylum application handled by hiring an immigration consultant who would prepare your application, and then before the interview give you a lawyer to accompany to you to the interview. In most cases the lawyer knows little about your case and you will not be prepared well for the interview (this scenario happens a lot in Los Angeles).
After asylum application filing, if I marry a US citizen, can I just ignore the asylum application?In most cases you cannot.
If you marry a US citizen before your application is adjudicated by the asylum office, and you are sure you do not wish to continue your asylum case, you should file I-130 and I-485 immediately and write to asylum office about your decision. Sometimes at your I-485 interview, USCIS may request you to withdraw your asylum application before it would continue to adjudicate your I-485.
If you marry a US citizen after your case is referred to immigration court, you cannot ignore your immigration court proceedings. You must appear for all hearings and you may ask the court to terminate your proceedings in order for you to file I-485 with the USCIS. This is very difficult though, especially prior to the approval of the visa petition(I-130). In many cases, you may have to wait for the approval of i-130 and then request adjustment of status in immigration court.
Please note if you marry a US citizen after removal proceedings are initiated, the law presumes your marriage is for immigration purpose and you have heavier burden to prove otherwise.
If I have been in the US for more than 1 year, I cannot apply for asylum.Generally yes.
There are, however, many exceptions.
if you maintain a legal status in the US (such as F1/2, L1/2 or H1/4, B-1/2 extended by USCIS, etc), you are not subject to this rule(so called "one year rule"); If you lose your nonimmigrant status, you must file your asylum application within a reasonable time. In general 1-3 months are consider reasonable; If your application is delayed due to other circumstances beyond your control, you may file asylum as soon as you can. For example, if you are detained by police, hospitalized or duped by bad lawyer or immigration consultant, you may file your asylum application as soon as you realize the problem. You must also diligently pursue your application without further delay.
Another important exception is that if your personal circumstances have been changed so you now may have reasonable fear of future persecution, you must file within a reasonable time after the changes. For example, 2 years after you came to the US on a B-2 visa, you are out of status but you recently started to join a particular social group, you may file the application within 1-3 months after you join the group.
My lawyer/immigration consultant hand me a written statement prepared by them and ask me to copy it.No. That is absolutely a bad idea.
Declaration is one of the most important evidence in your asylum application. It must contain facts that you are familiar with. You cannot use a statement someone else prepared for you and ask you to memorize it.
Declaration must be detailed, logical and consistent with other evidence of your application, country condition and other publicly available information. The best practice is to write a draft and then work with your lawyer/assistant to finalize it.
My lawyer does not speak Chinese so I only talk to the assistant.This is not a good sign.
Assistant cannot answer your legal questions, strategize your application and prepare you well for the interview. The assistant should just interpret your meetings with the lawyer and you must have your answers from the lawyer. Once you meet the lawyer, received answers to all your questions and understand your application process, it is OK for the assistant to work on your case, subject to lawyer's final approval for any filings with the USCIS.
I filed asylum in LA or NY, if I move to SF and transfer my case to SF, will I lose my waiting time?No. In our experience, waiting time in other office will be counted by San Francisco office and you may receive interview notice soon.
After asylum filing, can I go back to my home country and come back to resume the application?If you have valid nonimmigrant visa, you may leave the US and come back to continue your asylum application if your case is still pending at asylum office. Asylum office may, however, take into consideration of the fact that you return to your home country from which you claim you fear persecution.
If your case is referred to immigration court, you cannot leave the US or you are considered self-deported.
If you have more than 180 days but less than 365 days unlawful presence, and if you do not wish to continue your asylum application in immigration court, you may ask for voluntary departure. You will not be subject to the 3 year bar. You may apply for nonimmigrant visa again (you may be refused visa on other grounds but certainly not for unlawful presence).
Asylum denied by USCIS,immigration judge and appeal was dismissed. How can I reopen the proceedings?Yes, but under very limited circumstances.
If you now know your prior lawyer provided ineffective assistance, you may file a motion to reopen; if conditions in your home country have changed, you may file a motion to reopen; if the US laws have changed so you may become eligible for asylum, you may file a motion to reopen.
After I file asylum, can I renew my passport at the consulate?No. Renewal of your passport with your home country's embassy or consulate will be considered an act of seeking protection, a direct contradiction to your claim for fear of persecution. Especially if you are asked to sign a statement essentially admitting that you lied in your asylum application.
You cannot have both ways.