Asylum Applications for Refugees
Every year, thousands of people that are already in the United States or who are waiting at the U.S. border apply for asylum. Asylum is a state-defined form of protection from persecution that allows foreign nationals to live inside of the United States. A person granted asylum (also known as an asylee) is protected from returning to their home country and is authorized to work in the United States. Additionally, they may apply for a social security card, request permission to travel overseas, and can even petition to bring family members to the United States. After a year in the United States, an asylee may apply for their green card and eventually, citizenship.
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The Asylum Application Process
There are three primary ways in which an asylum-seeker can apply for protected status in the United States: the defensive process, the affirmative process, and the expedited process.
- Defensive Asylum occurs when someone who is in removal proceedings files for asylum directly with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice. This is done in an attempt to avoid deportation. It is important to note that the EOIR does not provide counsel for individuals in immigration court. Asylum-seekers in need of proper representation should seek out an attorney.
- Affirmative Asylum occurs when someone preemptively applies for asylum through USCIS. If the USCIS officer handling their case does not grant their asylum application and the person applying does not have a lawful resident status, it is likely that they will be referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings. They may then renew their application through the defensive asylum process described above.
- Expedited Asylum occurs when someone who is placed in “expedited removal proceedings” files directly with USCIS to apply for asylum. If an individual is denied asylum during the Expedited Asylum process, they are referred to immigration court for removal proceedings.
With all of the benefits available to an asylee, it’s easy to understand that USCIS and DHS take asylum-seekers seriously. Applying for asylum is complex, time-consuming process that can frustrate and exclude many individuals that should qualify.
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