An individual may apply for Asylum if he or she has already entered the United States and is unwilling or unable to return to his or her home country because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based on political opinion, religion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group.
Applications for asylum must be filed within one year of the applicant’s entry into the United States. Exceptions for the one year deadline include changed country conditions or serious illness. If an individual fears that he or she will be tortured if forced to return to their home country and does not otherwise qualify for Asylum, he or she may still be eligible for protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). This relief is called Withholding of Removal and its burden of proof is higher than that for asylum.
If an application for Asylum is granted, the individual will be able to live and work in the United States. The Asylee will also be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status (a “green card”) one year after the grant of asylum. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be included in an Asylum application as long as they are also in the United States.
Deportation is the formal removal of a foreign national for violating U.S. immigration laws. In most cases, the government cannot remove an individual until he or she has been afforded an opportunity to respond to allegations and present a defense.
Removal Proceedings can be initiated by the government on the basis of criminal acts or negative immigration history. Common grounds for removal include illegal entry into the United States, overstaying a visa, misrepresentation on an immigration application, and criminal convictions. An individual who is the subject of a Notice to Appear is required to appear before a judge at an immigration court. Failure to appear at a scheduled hearing before an immigration judge has severe consequences and may result in the judge ordering removal in absentia (in the Respondent’s absence).
An individual who has received a Notice to Appear should immediately consult an experienced deportation defense attorney. The attorney can determine whether a Respondent is eligible for relief from removal and prepare a defense. Some examples of relief from removal are:
- Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents;
- Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents;
- Asylum, Withholding of Removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT);
- Adjustment of Status;
- Section 212(c) relief;
- NACARA; and
- Protection for victims of domestic violence and other crimes (VAWA, U-Visa, and T-Visa).
Our attorneys also represent clients in Bond Hearings, Voluntary Departure requests, and BIA Appeals.