I am afraid to return to my home country. What can I do?
If you are scared of returning to your home country because you fear harm or mistreatment, you have the right to request asylum or related forms of relief in the United States. This is true even if you entered the United States without authorization, or if you have a criminal history.
But the process isn’t easy. Winning asylum in the United States has always been difficult, and has become even more so in recent years. A good attorney with knowledge of the law and procedure of applying for asylum can maximize your odds of winning.
Who qualifies for asylum?
In order to win asylum, you need to convince the US government that you have suffered or will suffer persecution in your home country. This is more than simply showing that you have been mistreated. You also need to convince the government that you fit into one of the five protected categories that qualify for asylum. They are:
- National Origin
- Political Opinion
- Particular Social Group
You must also convince the government that the persecution you suffered was “on account of” your membership in one of these categories. This “on account of” requirement is called a nexus, and can be one of the most challenging obstacles to winning asylum.
How do I apply for asylum?
There are two ways to apply for asylum. First, you can apply for asylum affirmatively. This means that you initiate the process while the government is not trying to deport you. You will file your application and supporting documents with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Second, you may have to apply for asylum defensively, which means that the government is already trying to deport you and you are seeking asylum as a way to prevent your deportation. You will file your application and supporting documents with a judge in immigration court. The official application for requesting asylum in the United States can be found here.
Why should I hire an attorney?
A good attorney can be a tremendous help in pursuing your asylum claim. Among other things, a good asylum attorney will :
- Conduct a thorough interview with you to ensure that he or she understands your story and why you are seeking asylum. This understanding is crucial to presenting your case effectively.
- Carefully fill out the necessary paperwork. The asylum application and related forms are complicated, and they ask questions that can be difficult to answer. How you answer those questions can affect your odds of success at the final interview or hearing. A good attorney will be well-versed in the best way to approach these questions.
- Diligently and creatively seek out evidence in your favor. In addition to the application itself, a good asylum claims requires additional evidence. This evidence could be affidavits, country conditions reports, medical documentation, academic articles, expert witness testimony, and many other things. A good lawyer will help you compile a body of evidence that helps persuade the government that your story is one that merits asylum.
- Prepare you to testify. Whether you are applying affirmatively or defensively, you will likely have to tell your story to the adjudicator. This can be difficult and upsetting. You may need to discuss traumatic events from your past. You may be uncomfortable talking about what happened. A good attorney will help you develop your testimony and practice its delivery so that you are prepared when it comes time to tell the government your story.
The One-Year Deadline
Please be aware that you must submit your asylum application to USCIS or the immigration court within one year of your arrival to the United States in order to preserve your right to seek asylum. While there are some exceptions to this deadline, you should consult an experienced asylum attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you preserve all your rights and options in this difficult process.
Bacus Law has extensive experience in handling and winning asylum claims for people from all over the world. If you fear returning to your home country, please contact us as soon as possible for a free 20-minute consultation.