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Tampa FL Asylum Lawyer

Under U.S. immigration law, foreign nationals can seek asylum if they have a legitimate reason to fear for their own lives on the basis of their race, religion, political opinion, sexual orientation, sex, nationality, or other membership within a social group. If you are seeking asylum, it is vital that your petition meets all legal requirements and provides ample evidence to support your assertions. An experienced Tampa FL asylum lawyer at Little Law, P.A. can help. Below, we discuss how the asylum process works, who is eligible, what you can expect.

Who Is Eligible for Asylum?

There is no cap on the number of people who can apply for asylum in a given year. However, there is a cap on the number of people who can request green card status after being granted asylum. Once an asylum request has been granted, only 10,000 individuals can apply for legal permanent resident status. Before you can apply for legal permanent resident status, you must have already lived under refugee status for a year. After the year is over, you can then apply for a green card.

If you are arriving in the U.S., you must apply for asylum at any port of entry. This includes border crossings, airports, or seaports. You then submit an application for asylum to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) if the government has already moved to deport you. If not, you can apply for asylum with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Some asylum seekers may be required to wait in their home country while their asylum application is being processed.

In order to be granted asylum, you must demonstrate to immigration authorities that you have a well-founded fear of returning to your home country on the basis of persecution. This persecution can either come from your home country’s government or an organization that the government cannot or will not control.

Lastly, you must demonstrate that the persecution is based on some group or class membership. For instance, if you live in a country where homosexuality is punished with the death penalty, you can apply for asylum on that basis.

Special Circumstances

Generally speaking, you cannot live in the U.S. for more than a year illegally and then petition the government for asylum. In other words, you are required to apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S. There are some exceptions to this rule, however.

If you’ve been in the U.S. for over a year and the conditions of your home country have changed during the time you’ve spent in the U.S., you can argue that you should be allowed to apply for asylum on that basis. Additionally, if you can show some legitimate reason why you were unable to apply for asylum within that one-year period, you may still be able to apply for asylum. Complicated scenarios such as these are best handled with the help of a Tampa FL asylum lawyer.

Affirmative Application vs. Defensive Application

Generally, there are two ways to apply for asylum. The first involves the petitioning of USCIS for asylum. The second involves deportation or removal proceedings having been initiated against you. The former is ideal since there are no questions regarding your intentions. You are applying for asylum and you’re going through the proper channels to do so.

In the latter scenario, ICE or DHS have initiated removal proceedings against you. As a defense, you are claiming that deportation back to your home country would be life-threatening or dangerous. U.S. immigration requires that you fill out the same USCIS application that you would for an affirmative application. This would then be sent to an immigration judge for review. The judge would then schedule an asylum hearing where your case will be heard and determined.

Withholding of Removal

Withholding of removal prevents the U.S. government from deporting an immigrant to a country where they would be persecuted for group affiliation. However, this is not the same as the government granting an immigrant asylum and, in many ways, is inferior. Those with “withholding” status can have their status easily revoked. Additionally, they cannot apply for green card status.

In some cases, it is the last best option available to those who have missed the one-year filing deadline for asylum status or would otherwise have their asylum petition denied. Withholding status also has a higher standard of proof. While asylum seekers need only demonstrate that there is a well-founded fear of returning to their home country, those claiming withholding of removal in a deportation hearing would need to demonstrate that persecution against them was more likely than not.

Immigration authorities can revoke withholding status if they can demonstrate that the applicant’s home country is no longer a credible threat to their life or liberty.

U.N. Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)

UNCAT is a treaty that prohibits governments from torturing their citizens while simultaneously preventing governments from sending immigrants back to countries where they will be tortured. CAT defenses can be used as a last resort for those in the U.S. facing deportation. They are generally invoked after immigration authorities have denied both asylum petitions and a petition for withholding.

Unlike asylum or withholding, the individual does not need to be a part of a protected group or class. They only need to prove that it is more likely than not that, if they were returned to their home country, they would be tortured by their government. However, there are some disadvantages. If the individual is deemed a threat, they can be held in detention by the Department of Homeland Security.

Consult With an Experienced Tampa FL Asylum Lawyer

Asylum law is a nuanced and constantly evolving area of immigration law. It’s important to have an experienced Tampa FL asylum lawyer who has up-to-date knowledge of your region and knows how to navigate the complexities of the immigration system. If you are seeking asylum, Little Law, P.A. can fight for your right to remain in the U.S. We can also help you apply for green cards and work visas once your application has been accepted. Contact us today to learn more.