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What is asylum, and how is it different from refugee status? 

In order to be eligible for asylum, the applicant must prove a reasonable fear of persecution, or torture on the basis of their race, religion, national origin, political opinion or social group membership. The persecution must be done by the government, or by people who the government refuses to control, or cannot control. Asylum can only be applied for once in the United States, and no more than one year after initial entry (there are exceptions to this rule). Asylum can also be applied for at a port of entry. Form I-589 must be completed and submitted to USCIS (no fee is required to submit the application). Evidence and documentation supporting the claim of reasonable fear of persecution must also be submitted with the application.

 

The applicant is eventually scheduled for an interview with an immigration officer. After the interview, the applicant will either be granted asylum status, denied, or told a denial is likely. If the applicant is not in valid status when the asylum application is denied, he or she will be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings. If asylum is granted, the applicant’s family members listed on the application will also be granted asylum if they qualify and are not barred for any reason. If the applicant’s spouse/children are outside the U.S., a petition can be filed to obtain derivative asylum status for those family members. 

 

A refugee is someone who is outside of the United States and seeking to enter on the basis of persecution, and is not resettled in another country. A refugee must receive a referral from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. There is no government fee to apply for either refugee or asylum status. 

 

The asylum and refugee process is complicated, and should not be pursued without the help of a qualified immigration attorney. Contact The Firm today to discuss your situation, and begin the process of seeking asylum in the United States.

What is DACA and how can I apply for it before it expires?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a special program that was started by President Barack Obama. On September 5, 2017, President Trump’s administration announced it would be ending the program. DACA made it possible for certain young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally to be protected from removal, obtain work authorization, and other benefits. New DACA requests are no longer being accepted, and neither are advance parole requests (to travel), associated with DACA.

 

DACA renewal requests must be received by October 5, 2017, and the beneficiary’s benefits must be set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. This is only for persons currently receiving DACA benefits. No new applications are being considered. Contact The Firm today to discuss what options are available to you as a DACA beneficiary. 

I have an urgent situation in the United States. Is there a way for me to enter the country quickly? 

Yes. Humanitarian parole is a discretionary option whereby someone outside of the U.S. can be allowed to enter based on humanitarian, or significant public benefit reasons. It is used to allow someone to bypass the normal procedures, and quickly gain entry into the U.S. Parole is temporary, may be conditional, and can be revoked at any time. Parole may be self-petitioned for, or requested on behalf of someone else. 

I was told that as a man I cannot file a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petition. Is this true? 

Spouses: abused spouse of U.S. citizen, or lawful permanent resident. A spouse can also file if their child was abused by their citizen, or permanent resident spouse

Parent(s): abused by their citizen son, or daughter

Children: unmarried, under the age of 21, and abused by their citizen, or permanent resident parent; can also file after age 21, but before turning 25, if they can prove that the abuse caused the delay in filing

No. The Violence Against Women Act makes it possible for women, men, and children to file an immigrant visa petition without their abusive spouse, parent, or child knowing that the petition was filed. There are different eligibility requirements for a spouse, child, and parent who files a petition. According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, persons who can file a VAWA petition are: 

VAWA is a highly beneficial form of immigration relief, and there is much more to know. There are other types of humanitarian immigration relief that you may be eligible for. Contact the Firm today to schedule a consultation.