Newark, NJ- Asylum is a special immigration status granted to individuals who left, or cannot return to, their native countries out of fear for their personal safety and fear they face further persecution if they return. The United States limits the number of immigrants granted asylum each year and requires a significant amount of proof when applying for this status.
Immigrants may request asylum at a port of entry, within one year of entry to the United States, or within one year of a changed circumstance in the native country if they have been in the U.S. for more than one year.
Applying for asylum at a port of entry is a process that moves fairly quickly. Within a few days of asking for asylum, an applicant should meet an asylum officer to establish a “reasonable fear” they will face persecution in their native countries if they return. If an immigrant establishes they are in danger, they will be permitted to remain in the U.S. while they wait for their appearance before an immigration judge.
If an immigrant enters the U.S., he or she can ask for asylum by completing the required application I-589 within one year of entering. There are exceptions to this requirement, which can be explained by a New Jersey immigration attorney.
After submitting Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, the asylum-seeker will be scheduled to meet with an asylum officer. It is up to the discretion of the asylum officer to make the initial determination whether an immigrant should be granted asylum. If they are denied asylum, the asylum officer’s decision can be appealed before an immigration judge as long as the immigrant applied after entering the U.S.
This first meeting with an asylum officer is crucial. An immigrant will have better success with their application if they retain an asylum attorney to help them demonstrate they meet the “reasonable fear of persecution” eligibility requirements.
In order to be considered for asylum, the petitioner must prove he or she faces or could face persecution in their native country due to their race, religion, political affiliation, nationality or membership in social group, as outlined by USCIS. Persecution can include imprisonment, harassment, physical violence, psychological distress or a denial of their basic human rights.
Most asylum eligibility requirements are relatively straightforward, but the Board of Immigration Appeals is regularly called on to clarify the “membership in a particular social group” requirement. What constitutes “membership in a particular social group” is not clearly defined by the Immigration Nationality Act, so asylum officers and immigration judges have more flexibility in determining who qualifies for asylum under this requirement on a case by case basis.
In the Matter of M-E-V-G-, decided on February 4, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals was asked to reconsider the asylum request of a Honduran man who was subjected to gang violence while traveling in Guatemala. He sought asylum on the grounds that he was a member of a “particular social group namely Honduran youth who have been actively recruited by gangs but who have refused to join because they oppose the gangs.”
The Board of Immigration Appeals determined the applicant did not establish the past persecution requirement, and denied him asylum. However this case compelled the court to “adjust” the eligibility requirements for “membership in a particular social group.”
Prior to their decision for In the Matter of M-E-V-G-, the Board of Immigration Appeals determined “membership in a particular social group” is based on “particularity” and “social visibility.” Following their decision for In the Matter of M-E-V-G-, the BIA clarified that the “social visibility” requirement did not mean “ocular” visibility, a difference that can be seen, and renamed the eligibility requirement to “social distinction.” That means an immigrant’s membership in a “particular social group” does not have to be solely based on differences that are visibly apparent, but on their social differences.
As this case shows, applying for asylum can be a difficult undertaking and requires. I have an understanding of U.S. immigration laws that will be beneficial to immigrants whether they are applying for asylum or need a deportation defense. I understand your rights and will guide you through the different stages of applying for asylum from filing out your application to providing proof you deserve to be granted asylum. Immigrants throughout New Jersey can contact my Newark office to discuss their needs.