By definition, an asylum is a refuge and protection location, a sanctuary for those who want to escape their mother country. Simply put, asylum is a safety blanket for non-citizens who have thought of persecution secondary to non-modifiable factors, such as nationality, race, religion. It can also be because of personal matters, like own political opinions and social group participation.
As one of the most populous countries globally, the United States admits to the right of asylum provided that the entity fits the standard of the law. Over the past years, the country had accepted ten thousand asylum seekers or refugees per year, making the U.S. the most eligible country to seek asylum. Much like per country’s immigration laws, the United States also holds strict asylum law according to the applicant’s type of seeker. One of which is applying for the affirmative asylum process.
Processing Affirmative Asylum
The United States divides asylum seekers into two sections: affirmative and defensive. Both types require a unique process and government officials to be approved. As for affirmative, the process of application is submitted through the USCIS.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, to apply for affirmative asylum, the petitioner should be residing in the United States firsthand regardless of what type of arrival or immigration status. Valid applicants should appeal within one year of the latest arrival in the United States. However, this may be altered if valid reasons regarding the change in circumstances are the reason to delay filing (subject to the officials’ approval).
Requirements for Application
To achieve complete application, the applicant needs to submit the necessary forms to the USCIS. These forms required are as follows:
- Form I-589
- Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
After submission, it will then be processed for approval. However, the processing length is on a case-to-case basis; it varies depending on the petitioner’s situation. Some can lead to months or several years. This is one of the primary reasons the United States’ asylum-seeker rate increases in number not just per quarter or year but also per month.
Duration of Processing: Affirmative Asylum
As per the National Immigration Forum, USCIS is enforced by the Immigration of Nationality Act (INA) to schedule the first interview 45 days after submission of requirements. After this interview time frame, the approval decision is limited to 180 days (after the date of application).
Compared to seekers under the defensive asylum process, the affirmatives have a more straightforward waiting game. For defensive, they are subject to follow the immigration court rules secondary to their residence status (outside the United States), which makes it even harder since the immigration court has been known and recorded to have hundred-thousands of imminent cases. Besides, the immigration court’s waiting duration for an immigration hearing is on an average of 23 months or almost two years.
The Right to Legal Representatives
Regardless of which type of asylum seeker the petitioner is, both have the right to hire or reach out for help to an asylum or immigration lawyer. Given that the asylum cases are one of the most complex and involve many federal laws, it is recommended for a seeker to have one.
Since most are between the eligibility of the applicant to meet the criteria of an asylee or refugee and the government officials, it is best to have a reliable legal representative that can see the applicant’s case in full view and perspective, having the right amount of knowledge to put it in court.