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Seeking asylum in the United States

Coming to the United States may have been a frightening experience. However, the fear of immigrating to a new country may have seemed manageable compared to the circumstances that existed for you in your homeland. Like many, you came to the U.S. and made your way to Colorado to find a new life with new opportunities. However, you may only achieve this if your lawful status protects you from removal.

If you arrived here expecting to seek asylum, you should be aware that it is not a protection the government gives automatically. Like other immigration processes, you must follow the regulations and meet eligibility requirements before you can obtain protected status under asylum.

Am I eligible for asylum?

If you have genuine, reasonable fear for your safety upon returning to your homeland, you may request asylum when you arrive at a port of entry. However, if you fail to do so, you have up to one year to apply using form INS I-589 on the website for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you have been in the U.S. longer than a year without seeking asylum, you may still be eligible if the circumstances in your homeland recently changed creating a hostile situation for you.

The government will consider you a refugee if returning to your country is impossible or dangerous because of persecution based on any of these factors:

  • Your religious beliefs
  • Your race
  • Your nationality
  • Your political opinions
  • The fact that you belong to a social group, such as your gender or your marital status

The persecution must be the reason you seek asylum, and you will be required to demonstrate that your persecutor, usually a party of authority, wants to cause you harm for one of the above reasons. You may include your spouse and children in your petition for asylum.

Applying for asylum

Once you have made your request for asylum in the U.S., you must wait for an appointment with an asylum applicant or judge. You will receive a notification in the mail for when and where you and your family will to go for fingerprinting and photographs. You will then meet with an asylum agent for an interview. It will be critical to have all necessary documentation with you, and if you need assistance assembling these papers, you have the right to seek the guidance of an attorney. You would benefit from the help of someone with experience in immigration law.

While your application is under consideration, you will not be able to seek employment without special permission from USCIS. Your attorney can help you with this along with any issues that may arise during your application process. A successful petition for asylum means protection from removal from the U.S. Denial means you have a limited amount of time to appeal the decision before the U.S. begins removal procedures.

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