Asylum Seeker & Refugee Law
Our Iranian Asylum Lawyer can assist any asylee or refugee who has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group upon return to his/her country. The difference between an asylee and a refugee is that an asylee is a person applying for such protection within the US, and a refugee is the term used for a person applying for such protection outside the US.
In addition to i) proving a well-founded fear on one of the enumerated bases, applicants for asylum should ii) apply within 1 year of entering the US.
A “well-founded fear,” again, has to be on account of a specific basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group. This basic definition is proven to be difficult to consistently implement, particularly in cases where a person is claiming that their persecution is due to membership in a particular group. Generally, social group should be somewhat narrowly defined. Another issue within the discussion of “well-founded fear” include the fact that an applicant must prove that the fear is reasonable, and “reasonable” means that there is a reasonable possibility that the person would be persecuted. The US Supreme Court suggests that a 1/10 rule, in that if there is a 10% risk that the applicant will suffer persecution, the fear is well-founded.
While there is a rule requiring asylum applicants to apply within 1 year of entering the US, there are exceptions. Some of these exceptions include changed country conditions and extraordinary circumstances. In the case of changed country conditions, the applicant would have to show that the circumstances have changed in their home country, to the point a claim for asylum would accrue. At the point that the claim accrued, the asylum applicant must apply within a reasonable time. As for extraordinary circumstances leading to delay in filing, such circumstances can include serious illness or disability, which may include PTSD as a result of past harm.
Process of Applying for Asylum or Refugee Status
As previously mentioned, there is a 1 year time limit, but otherwise, there is no annual quota on asylum. There is, however, an annual quota for refugees. An interview is generally scheduled with an asylum officer within 3-6 weeks of applying, a decision is granted 2 weeks from the interview. Cases heard before an asylum officer is called “affirmative asylum” cases. If the case is referred to the immigration judge, the applicant may plead their asylum claim before the judge. Timing of the individual hearing before the judge varies based on the judge’s calendar. Cases heard before a judge is called “defensive asylum” cases.
Benefits of Asylum or Refugee Status
There are many benefits that come with obtaining Asylee or refugee status. At the time the an affirmative asylum application is approved, you will be authorized for employment. In cases where the application is pending 150 days, you may apply for work authorization and receive it as early as 180 days from the time the asylum application had been pending. An asylee or refugee may also apply to bring in immediate relatives to the US as derivatives who may also receive employment authorization. The most important benefit of asylee or refugee status is that you may independently file for a green card through adjustment of status after being physically present in the US for 1 year since status was granted, and refugees are required to adjust status. It is highly advised not to return to the country of persecution at any time before applying for citizenship.
Contact Our Iranian Asylum Lawyer to discuss asylum applications and other alternatives with an experienced immigration attorney from Aria Law Group, feel free to contact us by email or call us at (650) 391-9630.