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Characteristics Of Asylum Status In the United States

In a previous article in HuffPost Voces, I offered my opinion on why immigration reform is more likely to be approved this time around.

In this article I want to talk about asylum – perhaps one of the least well-known among the different immigration statuses that people can apply for in order to live in the United States. Asylum may be specifically requested by all those entering or already in the United States who have a “reasonable fear” of persecution for reasons of their race, religion or political beliefs, or membership in an oppressed social group who are under threat of being returned to their country of citizenship or in some circumstances the country of last residence.

Besides having to belong to some group that is being discriminated or persecuted against, those aliens cited above who may be eligible for this status must have less than a year spent in the U.S. Although it is known that it is not necessary to renew visa or asylum status, many believe that the work permit must be renewed every year. However, persons under asylum status have the ability under the law to lock in a certain status and therefore do not require any additional permission to work in the United States. Similarly, all immediate family of an alien under asylum may be eligible for this status and enjoy all its benefits regardless of whether they have spent a certain time in the U.S. or not.

Read: FAQ on Asylum in the US

The Importance of the Immigration Application Calendar

As you can see in the Immigration Application Schedule/Calendar, which details the filing dates for different immigration applications that lead to eventual residence and U.S. citizenship, people under asylum status can access certain applications immediately such as travel authorization (via the form I-131) and the asylum (via the form I-703) for spouses and children under 21.

While it is not known how immigration reform may change the process to request for political asylum, it is known that in order to apply for residency in the United States, any person under asylum must wait a period of 12 months from the approval of this status. Additionally, in order to obtain U.S. citizenship, residents should expect to wait a total of 57 months from the adoption of such residence unless he or she is married to a citizen who is an American at the time of the application, in which case you may request citizenship after 33 months of being married to a U.S. citizen after obtaining residency. The good news is that once the citizenship process is finished, there are no waiting times to apply for the residence of immediate family members (parents, spouses, or children) are zero.

Documents you need to apply for asylum

Beyond the bureaucratic steps related to the processing of asylum applications, the documents required to apply for the request are:

1 – ID or certificate of foreign birth
2 – Copy of passport and I-94
3 – Passport size photographs of the applicant
4 – Applicant’s affidavit detailing the problems in their country of origin and the reasons why he or she cannot return

If the application include the spouse and children, you may also present:
1 – Marriage certificate
2 – Birth certificate of the minor children

As evidence, it is also required to present independent or third-party documentation which demonstrates the persecution and ill-treatment in the country of origin because of the ethnic, religious, political or social group membership of the person requesting asylum is also required. These materials can include newspaper articles, medical records, court or police records, etc.
If you or someone you know needs to ask for asylum immigration benefits, you may request an appointment with an immigration law firm after visiting the USCIS website.

Related: Information on American Residence and U.S. Citizenship

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