Many people come to the United States hoping for protection because they have been persecuted in their home countries or another country. You can seek asylum if you meet the definition of "refugee." You meet this definition if you're unwilling to go back to your home country but can't get protection in that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future. The fear of persecution must be due to your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The stakes of your asylum petitions may be life or death. However, there can be some disadvantages to filing an asylum claim when waiting for an immigrant visa. Therefore, it is crucial to retain an experienced Washington D.C. asylum lawyer to counsel you and prepare your asylum petition and represent you after that.Asylum Petitions in Washington D.C.
You cannot simply extend your lawful stay in the United States by claiming asylum. However, a petition is appropriate if you suffered or fear persecution in your home country because of your nationality, religion, race, membership in a specific social group, or political opinion. For instance, if the government sought to exterminate you because you belonged to a particular racial group, it would be appropriate to petition for asylum. Similarly, if your home country's government jailed you because of your political opinions, an asylum petition may provide an appropriate remedy. You can petition for asylum either affirmatively or defensively.Affirmative Petition with Form I-589
If you come into the country, meet the definition of "refugee," and the government has not taken steps to remove you, you can affirmatively apply for asylum through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To do this, you'll need to file an I–589 application.
Our Washington D.C. attorney will need to show you meet the definition of refugee. We'll need to supply substantial evidence to demonstrate past persecution or a credible fear of future persecution if returned. An officer will interview you at the local asylum office to determine whether you credibly fear persecution. If the officer grants you asylum, you may petition for your spouse and kids to join you in the country. Granting of asylum puts you on a path towards a green card and then citizenship.
However, if the asylum office denies your application, you may be referred to immigration court. If you don't petition for asylum within a year of entry, you'll be barred from asylum. You can also be barred if you are found to present a danger to the United States.
When a judge grants your affirmative application, you will receive asylum, which means you are eligible for family reunification and other benefits. However, withholding of removal or protection under the United Nations Convention against Torture is a limited form of relief that does not lead to the possibility of obtaining a green card or permanent residency.
You may apply for asylum with Form I–589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. Your asylum application may also include concurrent requests for two other types of relief that provide fewer benefits. These forms of relief are protection under the UN Convention Against Torture and Withholding of Removal under INA § 241(b)(3).
You wouldn't be eligible to file an asylum petition if you applied after being in the country for more than a year. You could qualify for an exception if you can show:
- Extraordinary circumstances that caused you to delay
- Changed circumstances that materially affect your asylum eligibility.
Extraordinary circumstances could include:
- Legal disability such as your status as an unaccompanied minor
- Severe mental or physical disability or illness.
You'll still need to apply a reasonable timeframe given the circumstances to use an exception. Changed circumstances may involve:
- Changes in applicable United States law
- Activities you become involved in outside the country that place you at risk of persecution
- Changes in conditions in your home country or, when you're stateless, your country of last habitual residence
If you've been put in immigration court proceedings, we can file your I–589 application with the judge. For example, if you are placed in expedited removal we can ask for asylum. When we do file in this way, we are using a defensive petition for asylum., In this situation, we're asking for your asylum not as an affirmative request but as a defense to the government's charge that you be removed from the country. You can be at risk of being deported once you're in immigration court. You should receive due process in the form of a hearing and an appeal, but it is essential to obtain representation for these proceedings. If your case is denied in immigration court, our attorney can appeal it to the Board of Immigration Appeals. If it's again denied, we can petition for review before the Court of Appeals.Hire Our Washington D.C. Lawyer to Represent You
Asylum petitions can be complex, and the stakes are incredibly high for refugees. If you fear persecution and need to file an asylum petition, you should discuss your situation with our experienced Washington D.C. immigration law attorney Matthew T. Famiglietti. Mr. Famiglietti represents refugees in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Fill out our online form or call the Law Office of Matthew T. Famiglietti at (202) 669-5880.
Please note, there is a consultation fee for any calls related to this practice area.