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Am I Eligible to Apply for Asylum? – Steps To Take

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Am I Eligible to Apply for Asylum? – Steps To Take

The United States is one of the countries where those fleeing persecution commonly seek refuge, but the law sets in place strict requirements that must be adhered to before one is granted asylum. If you are seeking asylum and are in the Chicago area, we have experienced immigration lawyers at the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates who can help you. Meanwhile, below is some information you can review to have a greater understanding of the asylum process.

Eligibility for Asylum

To apply for asylum, you must first meet the definition of a refugee as defined under U.S. immigration law. Even after it is determined that you meet the definition of a refugee, an asylum officer must also determine whether you are barred from applying for asylum on various grounds that are provided under the law.

It is important to review these eligibility requirements with an experienced immigration lawyer who can also help you to prepare and file your application for asylum. Your application process will generally follow these steps:

  1. U.S. Presence

You cannot apply for asylum unless you are physically present in the United States. Once physically present in the United States, there are two different ways you can pursue your asylum case: through an affirmative asylum process where you are in the United States but have not been placed in removal (deportation) proceedings or through a defensive asylum process where you have been placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

  1. File the Asylum Application

The law requires that one must apply for asylum with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within one year of the date of his or her last arrival in the United States unless you can show:

  • Changed circumstances. If you can show that there have been changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances that caused the delay in filing, and
  • You filed your application for asylum within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances, then filing your application beyond the one-year time limit may be excused, and your application will be considered on its merits.
  1. USCIS Acknowledgement of Application

Soon after your application is filed, the USCIS will issue you a receipt notice to inform you that the application has been properly filed. How long it takes from the time of filing for the next steps to be taken through approval varies, depending on a variety of factors, including the location where the application is filed and the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the application.

  1. The Interview and Decision

If your application is randomly selected for an interview, you will receive an interview appointment notice within approximately six weeks of mailing in the application. At the interview, a USCIS examiner will ask questions about the persecution the applicant suffered or fears they will suffer if they are forced to return to their native country.

The examiner will then decide whether to approve the application or not following the interview. If the applicant did not receive notice for an interview, then a USCIS examiner will decide on the application based on the application and supporting documents.

If you are in the Chicago area and wish to apply for asylum, contact our office for a consultation.

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