Protecting refugees has always been, and continues to be, a hallmark of American immigration law despite the partisan debates about the subject. Political asylum may be a viable option for you if you can document substantial reasons why you fear returning to your country of origin. The best way to find out if you’re eligible to remain in the United States on this basis is to speak to an experienced Massachusetts and Rhode Island political asylum attorney about your case. The Botelho Group offers free consultations to immigrants and refugees seeking political asylum.

Eligibility For Political Asylum

Eligibility for asylum in the United States you must adhere to these procedures:

  • You must apply at a border crossing, airport, seaport or other port of entry;
  • If you are currently in deportation/removal proceedings, you must submit an application to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR);
  • If you are not in deportation/removal proceedings, you must submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) within one year of your arrival into the United States;
  • Demonstrate that you meet the legal definition of “refugee” by documenting how you’ve been persecuted and how you have a well founded fear of persecution by the government of your country or by an organization that you country’s government cannot control and
  • Demonstrate that that persecution is based on your membership in a religion, nationality, race, social group or political persuasion.

Exceptions For Special Circumstances

It is sometimes possible to apply for asylum without meeting the eligibility criteria in some types of special circumstances. One of these exceptions is if you’ve been in the United States for over a year, but you can prove that the conditions in your home country have materially changed since you arrived in the United States. For example, a new regime that is hostile to your religion has taken over that elevates the threat that you would be persecuted if you returned to your home country. The extraordinary circumstance exception can also apply to problems with your own health or a serious illness or death in your family that impacted your ability to file during the one year period. Other exceptions include being prevented from filing because of a family member that’s abusive or because you were a victim of a violent crime. In order to successfully assert these exceptions, evidence must be properly presented, so it’s important to work with an experienced Massachusetts and Rhode Island political asylum attorney that can guide you through the process.

Affirmative and Defensive Applications

An affirmative application for asylum is when you submit your application to the USCIS in the absence of pending removal proceedings. It involves preparing your application, submitting it to the USCIS office, followed by an interview. After the interview, you’ll be notified in writing about the success of your application. A defensive application is when an application for asylum is filed in response to removal proceedings as a defense against deportation/removal. After your application for asylum is submitted, you will attend a hearing with your Massachusetts and Rhode Island asylum attorney that is similar to a trial, with documentary evidence and witness testimony. If your affirmative application for asylum is denied, you are likely to become subject to removal proceedings and will be given an opportunity to re-apply for asylum in a defensive application.

Withholding Of Removal

Withholding of removal is an option for asylum seekers that filed too late, have criminal records or other reasons why they aren’t eligible for asylum. It can allow you to remain in the country if you can prove that your life or freedom is in jeopardy if you return to your home country, but it does not provide legal permanent resident status or a path to citizenship. Withholding can be terminated if the attorneys for the United States can prove that you are no longer likely to be prosecuted if you return to your home country.

The Convention Against Torture

Protection from deportation under the Convention Against Torture is a last resort to avoid deportation if you’ve committed serious crimes that bar you from asylum and withholding. The Convention prohibits governments from deporting people if they know they will be tortured if returned to their home country. In order to be eligible, you must prove that the torture will be carried out by a government official or somebody acting in an official capacity.