Asylum/Refugee Status Based Immigration

  1. The Procedure for Obtaining Asylum
    Many individuals enter the country legally and apply for asylum with the INS. When this happens, they are given an asylum interview after several months. Ten days after the interview they are supposed to come back to the INS to receive the decision. Assuming that the decision is positive, the applicant will be awarded asylee status along with his or her spouse and any children under the age of 21 present in the United States will also be awarded asylee status. If a spouse or child (under 21) of an asylee is not present in the United States, the asylee can file a reunification petition which would allow these relatives to be admitted to the United States as asylees. It presently takes about five months for the spouse or child of an asylee to be allowed to come to the United States on the basis of a reunification petition.

    Asylees may apply for permanent residence one year after being granted asylee status.If the initial decision by the INS is negative and the applicant’s visa has expired, the applicant’s case will be referred to an immigration judge. Sometime thereafter, the applicant will again be entitled to present his or her political asylum case before the judge in a trial. It is highly recommended that the applicant be represented by a skilled attorney at trial. Mr. Perkins has successfully represented applicants across the United States.

    If the applicant wins the trial and is granted asylum, the applicant will be given asylee status with the same rights as described above. Assuming that the applicant loses the trial, the applicant will have a chance to appeal the results to the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”). At present, the appeal process averages 1 to 2 years. If the applicant wins on appeal, he or she will either be granted asylum by the BIA or the case will be sent back to the immigration judge for further proceedings. If the BIA does not reverse the immigration judge’s decision, the case may then be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. Like the BIA, the Court of Appeals may grant asylum or send the case back for further hearings.

    Assuming that the Court of Appeals does not reverse the BIA’s decision, the case can then be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Applicants who do not enter the United States legally may also apply for asylum with the INS. Illegal immigrants caught at the border and placed in deportation or exclusion proceedings may also apply for asylum. Applicants already in deportation or exclusion proceedings do not have the opportunity to present their cases to the INS, but may present their claim to an immigration judge at an asylum trial.

  2. The Effective Presentation of an Asylum Case
    While the facts are extremely important in any asylum case, an effective presentation of the case can mean the difference between success and failure. There are several elements which can assist an applicant in effectively presenting their asylum case. They are:

    1. The Statement of the Applicant
      The statement of the applicant should set forth in detail the applicant’s past history of persecution and threats of persecution and the applicant’s basis for fearing further persecution should he or she return to his or her home country. The declaration should be very broad and should, in essence, be a life story of the applicant, and his or her opinions and activities.
    2. Affidavits and Letters
      Supporting affidavits or letters should be included as part of the application if available. These documents should establish the nature of the applicant’s opinions and activities, and the persecution that he or she faces as a result of these opinions or activities. Affidavits are obviously better proof than letters since, they are sworn statements.
    3. Newspaper Articles, Pamphlets, Magazines, and other Published Materials
      Newspapers, magazines, and other published materials should also be submitted as part of the application. It is best that these items be as recent as possible, support the applicant’s recollection of events in their home country, and provide an objective basis for the applicant’s belief that they would be persecuted if returned to their home country.
    4. Other Evidence
      The applicant should also try to determine if there is other evidence which might be used to win his or her case. For example, in a case once prepared in my office, the applicant was able to obtain a secret list written by his opponents which contained his name. We were able to show that people on the list were persecuted and that the applicant faced persecution as well.
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