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Asylum grants legal protection to foreign-born individuals coming to the United States who are fearful of returning to their home country. Asylum is available to those who can’t return to their home country or are unwilling to do so for fear of persecution under five acceptable grounds outlined in the federal asylum law found at 8 U.S.C. § 1158. Asylum is a complicated area of immigration law and requires a skilled lawyer to make a convincing case.
If you or a loved one are seeking to apply for asylum, it’s important to note that you must be present in the U.S. in order to do so. Asylum seekers must also submit their applications within one year of being in the U.S. However, there are a few exceptions to these general requirements.
At Best Immigration Lawyer, we assist Phoenix asylum seekers at every stage of the asylum process. Whether you’ve already applied, are facing deportation, or have not yet applied, we can help with your immigration issues.What Are the Requirements for Getting Asylum?
According to data published by the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program, Arizona has helped more than 82,000 refugees resettle in the state (including the Phoenix metro area). Many of those refugees were asylum seekers in Arizona first.
While many people have successfully sought asylum in Phoenix, countless others seek it but don’t qualify. Generally, individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. must meet the following conditions:
- The asylum seeker has been persecuted in the past or has a well-founded fear of future persecution.
- If persecuted in the past, the asylum seeker has proof of it taking place in his or her home country or country of residence.
- The asylum seeker must have faced persecution because of his or her religion, nationality, race, political opinion, sexual orientation (LBGTQ identity) or membership in a particular social group.
- The entity that harmed or is threatening harm must be an agent of the government or an entity that the government can’t or is unwilling to control.
Eligibility for asylum requires a person to meet the definition of a “refugee” as that term is defined in section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). An asylum officer will decide if there is a reason your application should be granted or denied.
Your asylum application could be denied if you fit into one of the following categories:
- You were involved in persecuting another person or group of people
- You’ve been convicted of a serious crime
- You’re considered a national security threat
- You were already “firmly resettled” in another country before coming to the United States
For the purposes of understanding asylum as it relates to immigration law, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) defines persecution in the following way:
“Objectively serious harm or suffering that is inflicted because of a characteristic (or perceived characteristic) of the victim, regardless of whether the persecutor intends the victim to experience the harm as harm.”
Persecution is not limited to physical harm or the threat of physical harm. It can also include non-physical harm like severe economic harm, or the “deprivation of liberty, housing, employment, or other essentials of life.”
Generally, the asylum seeking process in the United States is wholly discretionary with the government. Indeed, the government can choose to grant or deny asylum for many reasons. That’s why it’s essential to consult with a good Phoenix immigration lawyer that understands the intricacies of asylum law.How Long Does the Asylum Process Take?
If you or a loved one is currently seeking asylum in Phoenix, it’s essential to be prepared for a long process. According to the USCIS, most asylum decisions are made within 180 days (6 months). However, more recently, there have been reported wait times of more than a year. Given the size of the Phoenix metropolitan area and the number of asylum applications, the wait times are much longer than smaller cities.Can I Still Apply for Asylum in Phoenix If I’m Here Illegally?
Even if you are illegally residing in Phoenix, you can still be eligible for asylum so long as you’re not currently being removed (deported) from the United States and you’ve filed an asylum application within a year of arrival. There are limited exceptions to these rules and, for this reason, it’s important to have an experienced and skilled lawyer representing you.