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The United States has always been a place for people to seek shelter from war-torn and oppressive places around the world. U.S. immigration law has a provision for allowing the victims of persecution or would-be victims of persecution to take refuge here called “asylum.”
Asylum can be asserted either upon arrival at a port of entry or in defense to a removal case, in which a person would otherwise be deported back to his or her home county.
If you or a loved one are seeking asylum either as someone who recently came to the Philadelphia area or as a defense to removal, a skilled attorney can help make the best possible case before an asylum officer or Immigration Court. At the Skinner Law Firm, we fight for refugees who would face persecution and violence if sent back to their home country. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.
Contact a West Chester asylum lawyer today to start working on your case. We represent people seeking asylum throughout the Philadelphia area and Southeast Pennsylvania, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York Counties. We also represent individuals before Immigration Courts in Philadelphia, York and beyond.
To be eligible for asylum, a person must meet the legal definition of being a refugee, as defined in section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A refugee is a person who is currently outside the country of his or her nationality or the last country in which he or she habitually resided, who cannot return because he or she was persecuted or has a well-founded fear he or she will be persecuted due to race, religion, nationality, membership in any particular social group or political opinion. Each requirement for an asylum claim has multiple layers of regulations and case law, and it is important to seek an attorney to present the best case possible.
If a person arrives at a port of entry and claims asylum, he or she will be detained and must submit to an interview. This interview is meant to determine whether the individual has a “credible fear” of returning home. If granted, the individual will then see an Immigration Judge to prove his or her asylum case.
If someone is physically present in the United States, he or she has one year from the date of arrival to file an asylum application. This is called an affirmative application. The refugee will file an application and corroborating evidence, and then have an interview before an asylum officer.
While waiting for a decision, a refugee may remain in the United States and apply for work authorization if 180 days has passed. If granted asylum, he or she can apply for permanent residence – also known as a “green card.” In addition, an individual granted asylum may also petition for their spouse and children to come to the United States.
If an asylum officer makes a negative ruling, the matter will be referred to a Judge in Immigration Court. The Immigration Judge will review the case as if it was new. Similarly, a person in removal proceedings may assert a claim of asylum as a defense to removal.
The Immigration Court in Philadelphia has a somewhat higher rate than the nation for granting asylum. The Court granted 59 percent of asylum applications in 2014, as opposed to 49 percent for the nation. The Immigration Court in York granted asylum at a much lower rate, 21 percent. There are several factors involved in these statistics, and it is best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney rather than make assumptions about the chances of one’s case.
At the same time an individual applies for asylum, he or she may also apply for two other forms of humanitarian relief – Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Neither of these claims is subject to the one-year limitation in order to apply. Additionally, these claims are mandatory forms of relief, which means the government cannot deport a qualified individual.
In a withholding claim, the government cannot deport a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. In a CAT claim, the government cannot deport a person when it is shown more likely than not that the person will face actual torture.
There are certain advantages to applying for asylum, withholding and/or a CAT claim. It is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who can explain the differences, benefits, and requirements of each. We represent people seeking asylum throughout the Philadelphia and suburban areas, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York Counties. We also represent individuals before Immigration Courts in Philadelphia, York and beyond.
If you or your loved one is the victim of persecution or would be the victim of persecution if returned to your home country, you may be eligible for asylum, withholding of removal or a claim under CAT. Whether a recent arrival or someone currently in removal proceedings, our West Chester asylum lawyers can help you. Call (610) 436-1410 today to schedule a consultation.