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The Two Ways to Apply for Asylum – By a Student in Oley, Pennsylvania

Millions of people a year are displaced due to persecution. Fortunately for these people there are countries that can provide help to these people, the United States being one of the most prevalent countries. Asylum is an immigration benefit that allows certain foreign nationals, who fear persecution, to remain lawfully in the United States indefinitely. Those who are granted asylum may lawfully apply for permanent residence. There are two paths to applying for asylum. One path is affirmative and the other is defensive. There are requirements for applicants to be eligible for asylum.

Requirements When Applying For Asylum

The requirements include many different aspects. Someone seeking asylum has to be able to prove that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of five grounds that include race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or for a certain political opinion. The application must currently be within the United States borders, the applicant cannot apply from abroad. The applicant must apply within one year of his or her last entrance into the United States. The immigration status does not matter, being in the United States on a visa or not does not matter. The applicant cannot have been denied asylum before, he or she can only apply again if the circumstances have drastically changed since last application for asylum.

Applying for asylum is very serious decision and it is recommended if someone is considering applying for asylum consult with an attorney before filing for asylum. It is recommended that the applicant keep a copy of every piece of paper submitted for personal records. It is recommended that the applicant should send the application by certified mail or through a delivery service; so that there is tracking number for the package which provides a way to prove that the application was filed on time.

The First Way to Apply for Asylum

The Affirmative Asylum application includes many steps. The first step is the enter the United States which can be difficult at times because traditional means of entry will result in being questioned by immigration authorities, but it may provide the opportunity to file an asylum application when crossing the . The next step is the file Form I-589, the Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, which serves two purposes, the first asking the government to not deport the applicant and the second it starts the process of getting a Green Card, it is a declaration of official residency. The card represents the right for an immigrant to live and work in the United States.  After filing the form the applicant will get a date when they have to get fingerprinted, this is also known as biometric collection. Following the fingerprinting an interview will be scheduled at an asylum office near the applicant, when the applicant goes in for this interview he or she will need to bring any dependents that need asylum, he or she may also want to bring a lawyer or a translator. An asylum officer will take a lot of time to determine if the applicant is eligible for asylum in the United States.  The officer’s supervisory officer will review the decision and it may be reviewed for a third time at the asylum office. When a decision is reached the applicant will be asked to return to the asylum office to be told the decision.

The Second Way to Apply for Asylum

Defensive Asylum is the less preferred option, but an immigrant can still petition for asylum. The applicant is taken in to custody and given a removal order. The applicant can ask for asylum if deportation would pose a serious risk for him or her. Unlike affirmative asylum, where the applicant only has to fill out and send in forms, defensive asylum proceedings take place in an immigration court. It is recommended that the applicant retain an attorney for the duration of the proceedings.

There are a couple of decisions that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can come to regarding the application for asylum. The best outcome is receiving a Grant of Asylum and a completed Form I-94 in the mail. This legally allows the applicant to be in the United States as an immigrant. The immigrant can then apply for employment authorization, a Social Security card, Permanent Residency, and other immigration benefits for applicant and dependents. Another outcome is a Referral to an Immigration Court, which is not a complete denial of asylum, where the applicant must also present the case to an immigration judge because the USCIS was not able to fully approve the application; this is usually the decision when someone applies for asylum with an illegal status. The outcome when an applicant can begin applying for employment while the USCIS completes its security checks is called Recommended for Approval. When the USCIS is finished the applicant will receive a Grant of Approval. If the USCIS decides the applicant does not need asylum status it will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny, the applicant has sixteen days to reply. If the USCIS approves the applicant’s response it will issue the applicant a Grant of Asylum and if the USCIS does not approve the applicant’s response the applicant will receive a Final Denial, where there is no appeal allowed.

Applying for asylum is a serious decision that requires a lot of thought. It is a long process and will require a lot of time and effort, but if the applicant is in need of help he or she will be granted asylum. There are many steps to applying for asylum and there are a few different outcomes that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can come to about the applicant’s need for protection. Asylum is one way for the millions of people to find a place where they can be free from persecution because of certain beliefs or religious affiliations. There are some restrictions on applying for asylum, but they are all reasonable. Many immigrants apply for asylum to find freedom from persecution.