The first thing you may be wondering is, what is the difference between a refugee and a person seeking asylum? A refugee is a person who is located OUTSIDE of the United Status and is afraid to return to their native country and seeking refuge in the U.S. A person seeking asylum is already IN the U.S. and is afraid to return to their native country.
You’ll notice one thing that they both have in common which is that a person is afraid to return to their native country. In order to file for asylum you must have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion and be unwilling to return to your country.The term “persecution” is not specifically defined and can come in many different ways. BUT if you are NOT afraid to return to your native country, you CANNOT file for asylum.
Along with having a well-founded fear of persecution, you must file your asylum application within ONE year of entering the United States. The exception to that is if there are “changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file.”
If you plan to file for asylum, it is important that you speak with an attorney first. Filing for asylum should be taken very seriously. You can file whether you have status in the U.S. or not. And if you don’t have status and file, the U.S. government will know who you are. If your asylum is denied, you could be deported back to the country you fear. If your asylum is granted, you can eventually apply for a green card and after some time gain citizenship! So it is important to put together an application with evidence that can demonstrate the persecution or your fear of returning to your country.
Please call our office at 508-438-1198, if you plan to file for asylum!
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.