As large numbers of men, women, and children wait in limbo at the southwestern U.S. border, new questions are being raised about how they can enter the country. For many of these migrants, asylum is the answer. Individuals fleeing their countries of origin out of fear of persecution or because of violence, war, or other threats can seek asylum in the United States.
Requests for asylum are at an all-time high. At the end of the last fiscal year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recorded more than 99,000 requests for asylum. Most of these requests are coming from Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. The current administration’s efforts to make it tougher for certain individuals to gain asylum has created a backlog of cases and an increase in detentions.
Eligibility for Asylum
An asylum seeker is one who seeks protection from persecution or violence either from within the United States or at the border. Application for protection may be made at an airport, seaport, border crossing, or inside the country. Those seeking asylum may be fleeing from:
- Persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political belief or affiliation, or membership in a targeted social group
A person must be arriving to the United States or already be physically present in the country to apply for asylum. All foreign nationals are permitted to seek asylum, regardless of their immigration status. Barring certain unique circumstances, asylum seekers are required to submit their claim within one year of their last arrival to the United States.
While asylum seekers are often confused with refugees, there is one significant difference between the two. Asylum is granted to those already in the United States or at the border; refugee status is grated to those outside of the country.
Cause for Denial
There are two primary reasons why you may be prevented from seeking asylum:
- Either an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals has already denied your application for asylum.
- You could be removed to a Safe Third Country. Currently, the United States only maintains a Safe Third Country agreement with Canada.
Your eligibility for seeking asylum may change as your circumstances change. A Philadelphia immigration lawyer can evaluate your individual situation and help determine if you are eligible to apply for asylum.
Applying for Asylum
There are two paths to asylum. Affirmative asylum is intended for people who are either seeking entry at the U.S. border or who have been in the country for less than one year. Defensive asylum is for those who have entered the U.S. without going through the proper channels and are claiming asylum to avoid removal. In a San Francisco federal appeals court, a federal judge is currently reviewing a recent order from the President seeking to ban those who are found to have entered the country unlawfully from seeking asylum.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Represent Clients Seeking Asylum
Leaving the only home you have ever known is difficult, but when violence or persecution make it unsafe to stay, leaving may be your only option. Unfortunately, anti-immigration policies are making it more difficult to seek asylum or refugee status. The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. will ensure your application is complete and compliant with USCIS guidelines. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Located in Center City Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.