There has been much talk about political asylum in the news lately. Just a few weeks ago, the President announced a new rule making qualifications for asylum status even more restrictive. Now more than ever it is imperative that individuals seeking relief from violence and persecution to understand the process to apply for political asylum in the United States.
What is Political Asylum?
Asylum status is granted to individuals either already in the United States or at a port-of-entry who fear returning to their country of origin because of persecution for:
- Membership in particular social group
- Political opinion
Political asylum offers the opportunity to live and work in the United States and apply for Permanent Resident Status after one year.
Asylum Status Eligibility
You must apply for asylum status within one year of arriving to the United States. To apply for asylum, you must:
- Request asylum at the airport, seaport, or border crossing where you enter the United States
- File an application within one year of entering the United States
- Request an extension if your circumstances have changed considerably prior to or within one year of entry
Anyone who poses a threat to national security or has committed a serious crime in or outside of the United States may not be eligible for asylum.
How to Apply for Political Asylum
The first step is to complete Form I-589 available on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. You can include your spouse and an unmarried child under the age of 21 on your application. Minors and children over 21 can apply for asylum on their own.
Your application should include detailed evidence of the conditions you are trying to avoid in your home country. This can be news articles, photos, and medical records that verify your claims.
Photos of yourself and family members included in your application must be included. These photos should be taken within 30 days and include the names and A-numbers (if available) of each person. Additional information for each family member is also required: birth certificates, marriage certificates, school records or anything to verify your relationship to each person.
If you are in immigration court, you file in the jurisdiction that oversees your case. Otherwise, you can file at your local service center. There is no cost to apply for political asylum in the United States.
The next step is an interview with an Asylum Officer. While interviews are generally conducted within 45 days of filing an application, the current backlog of applications may cause further delays. Bring identification, a copy of your application, and supporting documentation to your interview. Anyone listed on your application must attend the interview as well. Decisions are generally made within 180 days.
This process applies for people seeking asylum voluntarily. For men and women seeking asylum as a protection from removal (defensive asylum), the process is slightly different. Contact an experienced immigration lawyer in Philadelphia for clarification.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients Seeking Asylum
Countless men, women, and children live with the fear of returning to a homeland where they may be persecuted for their religion or political beliefs. Political asylum is a form of protection offering these individuals freedom to live and work in the United States.
To learn more about the political asylum application process and determine if you are eligible, schedule a consultation with the caring and skilled immigration lawyers in Philadelphia at Surin& Griffin, P.C. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to get started. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.