Many people come to the United States looking for protection from their home countries’ governments or residents. In some cases, the U.S. government grants these people political asylum – an immigration status that affords people the protection of staying within the U.S.’s borders. Working with a political asylum attorney in Miami can be a tremendous help, especially if you’re not sure where to start the process.
What Is Political Asylum?
Political asylum is an older term that kicked off just after World War II. Today, it’s simply known as asylum. A person who is granted asylum is known as an asylee.
You can petition the U.S. government for asylum because you fear persecution or because you have suffered persecution in your home country due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
Many people find it helpful to hire a political asylum attorney in Miami – working with an experienced lawyer can help streamline the process. Your lawyer will be there with you every step of the way, as well, to answer your questions and give you legal advice.
If you have been persecuted or if you fear persecution because of your race, you could qualify for asylum in the U.S. Despite the fact that there’s no scientific “race,” the social concept of race – and the concept under U.S. immigration law – refers to a group of people who share ancestry, geographic origins or other attributes that make them similar. Some examples are indigenous peoples, people of Sub-Saharan African descent, and people of European descent.
You do not have to be a racial minority in your home country to qualify for political asylum.
In some cases, couples who have not been allowed to marry in their home countries because they’re part of a “mixed-race” relationship have also qualified for race-based asylum in the U.S.
The U.S. offers its residents and citizens the freedom to practice or not practice any religion. In fact, it’s a right under the U.S. Constitution and international law.
It’s tough to define religion, but generally, it includes traditional and common religions as well as newer or smaller systems of sincere beliefs and practices.
If you have suffered religious persecution or you fear you will suffer religious persecution, you could qualify for protection through asylum. You may have been punished or threatened with punishment by religious police, a family member who has authority over you in a way that’s recognized by your government, or a religious authority because of an alleged failure to comply with religious norms; maybe your country’s laws put restrictions on your religious freedom and those laws seriously impact your way of life. If you believe you’re a victim of religious persecution, talk to your attorney about your options.
Your nationality or ethnic group, if you are persecuted because of it, may be grounds for admission into the U.S. through asylum. Nationality and ethnic grouping is usually based on a shared cultural history with other members of the same group. In many cases, people in an ethnic group share innate, unchangeable or fundamental characteristic, such as customs or language.
A denial of your basic human rights and civil rights may count as persecution. Imprisonment, violence (or threats of violence) and other negative circumstances may also help you qualify for asylum based on your nationality or ethnic group.
Membership In A Particular Social Group
The term membership in a particular social group can a little bit tough to define, according to USCIS. It requires that members of the group share a common, immutable trait. That can include “sex, color, kinship ties, or past experience, that a member either cannot change or that is so fundamental to the identity or conscience of the member that he or she should not be required to change it.”
The U.S. government has, in the past, recognized people as part of tribes, ethnic groups, social classes, family members of dissidents, occupational groups, LGBTQ people, child soldiers and others as having membership in particular social groups.
Political opinion is about more than supporting a political party, although that can be a reason for seeking asylum in the U.S. Other types of political opinion that the U.S. has recognized in the past include feminism, union activity, whistleblowing, imputed political opinion, or even neutrality.
Any of these positions can be dangerous in some countries. If you have been persecuted because of your political opinion, or if you fear persecution because of it, you could have grounds to ask the U.S. for political asylum.
What Persecution Really Means In The Context Of Political Asylum
Persecution typically refers to serious threats of harm, or the infliction of harm. Harm can be physical, psychological or even economic.
The harm can come from your government or from groups that your government is unwilling or unable to control.
Some examples of harm include:
- Denial of basic human rights
- Denial of freedoms
- Inappropriate imprisonment
That’s not a complete list; you may want to ask your political asylum lawyer if you’re not sure whether you would qualify for help under this program.
Who Qualifies For Political Asylum?
Not everyone qualifies for political asylum. You must meet strict requirements for the U.S. to provide you with protection, including proving that you cannot return to your home country because of persecution, and that the reason you were persecuted (or that you fear persecution) is based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.
You can ask for asylum at any port of entry, or if you’re already in the U.S. However, you must file for asylum within a year of your arrival in the United States. There are a few exceptions, such as if you show extraordinary circumstances held you back from filing, or your circumstances have changed significantly.
The Differences Between Asylees And Refugees
The main difference between an asylee and a refugee is where the person who needs help is when he or she asks for it. If you’re in the U.S. and you ask for protection, you’re seeking asylum and are called an asylee. If you’re outside the U.S. and you ask for protection, you’re seeking refuge and you’re called a refugee.
Both asylees and refugees can stay in the U.S. indefinitely, or at least until conditions in their home country return to normal.
- Refugees receive a work permit once they’re granted refugee status. Refugees are also eligible for government support during their first months in the country, and after a year, they can apply for a green card.
- Asylees must wait until their asylum is approved before applying for a work permit. After a year, they can apply for a green card.
“Last In, First Out” Policy On Asylum
Recent policy changes have resulted in a “last in, first out” process. USCIS is now prioritizing recently filed asylum applications over those that have been in the works for several years. The agency says that doing it this way will “allow USCIS to identify frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum claims earlier and place those individuals into removal proceedings.”
Common Questions On Political Asylum In The U.S.
Political asylum can be confusing. Here’s a quick list of the most common questions our office of political asylum lawyers in Miami receives. If you don’t see your question here, please feel free to call us at 305-767-2445.
How Much Does It Cost To Apply For Asylum?
There is no cost to apply for asylum in the U.S. other than what you pay your immigration attorney.
How Long Does It Take To Apply For Asylum?
The application process is fairly straightforward. The asylum interview should take place within 45 days of the date the application is filed, and typically, you’ll receive a decision within 180 days.
You can bring your attorney to your asylum interview. Your interview will last at least an hour, and your interviewer will ask you the reasons you’re applying for asylum and other questions.
The information you share with the asylum officer is confidential. It can’t be shared with third parties without your written consent or specific authorization by the Secretary of Homeland Security. You can learn more about confidentiality here.
Do People In The U.S. For Political Asylum Have Permission To Work?
Asylees can apply for a work permit after their asylum petition is granted.
Can You Bring Your Family When You Seek Political Asylum In The U.S.?
If you’re granted asylum, you can petition to bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. You’ll need a Form I-730, which your Miami immigration lawyer can help you with. You must file to bring your family within two years of being granted asylum, unless there are humanitarian reasons that the U.S. government should excuse you from the deadline.
Can You File For Permanent Residence In The U.S. If You’re A Political Asylee?
If you have been granted asylum status and have resided in the U.S. for a year, you can petition for permanent residence.
Do You Need To Talk To A Political Asylum Lawyer In Miami?
If you need to speak with a political asylum lawyer in Miami, call us right away at 305-767-2445 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation. We may be able to help you, so get in touch with us now.