An Immigration Lawyer’s Guide to Applying for Asylum in the U.S

by Saikon Gbehan Isijola, Esq

Seeking asylum in the United States often creates stress and uncertainty but working with a compassionate, experienced immigration lawyer can ease that strain.The Law Office of Saikon Gbehan Isijola in Providence, RI, is here to guide you through every step of the process – starting here in this blog. Join us as we explore what asylum is, the qualifications to apply for it, and what you should know about the application process.

Understanding Asylum

Asylum offers protection to individuals from foreign countries who are at risk of persecution in their homeland. Unlike refugees, who seek safety while outside the U.S., those applying for asylum do so from within the U.S. or at a port of entry. To qualify for asylum, applicants must demonstrate a reasonable & well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin and express their intention to stay in the U.S. for protection. Asylum seekers must file their applications within one year of arriving in the U.S., unless they are able to demonstrate an extraordinary circumstance that prevented them from meeting this deadline.

Under the UN Convention Against Torture, it is prohibited to forcibly return anyone to their home country if they are likely to face persecution, torture, imprisonment, or execution upon their return, based on specific grounds. This international agreement ensures the safety of those who cannot return to their native countries.

Qualifying Grounds for Seeking Asylum

To be eligible for Asylum in the U.S., your fear of past or future persecution in your country of origin must involve one or more of the following five grounds:

  1. Race

  2. Religion

  3. Political Affiliation

  4. Social Group (Including sexual orientation, gender, & minority status)

  5. Nationality


Affirmative vs. Defensive Asylum

Depending on your unique circumstances, there are two ways to apply for asylum in the United States.

Affirmative Asylum: You can apply for asylum affirmatively if you are already in the United States. To do this, you must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can file your application either online or by mail.

Defensive Asylum: You can also apply for asylum defensively if you are in removal proceedings. To do so, you must raise the issue of asylum with an immigration judge.

The Asylum Application Process

The asylum application process can be complex and time-consuming. If you are applying for asylum affirmatively, you will need to gather evidence to support your claim, such as:

  • Documentation of your identity and nationality (e.g., birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, immigration documents, ID card from the country you’re fleeing)
  • Documentation of your feared past or future persecution, including photos of harm suffered, hospital records, medical and psychological evaluations, and witness affidavits
  • Evidence that you would be persecuted if you returned to your home country, including country condition reports

In an affirmative asylum case, your asylum application will be filed with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). You will also be interviewed by an asylum officer, who will determine whether you have a credible fear of persecution. If the asylum officer finds that you have a credible fear, your case will be approved. At this time, you may be eligible for work authorization and for other benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid. One year following the approval of your asylum application, you may apply for permanent resident status.

In the case of defensive asylum application, you will file your asylum application with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Your case will be heard and adjudicated by an immigration judge. If the immigration judge denies your asylum application, there is still hope. It’s possible to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. You can also file a motion to reopen your case if you believe that there is new evidence that would support your claim for asylum.

Find the Right Immigration Lawyer in Providence, RI

An experienced and compassionate immigration lawyer is essential to securing a positive outcome when you pursue asylum here in the U.S. Saikon Gbehan Isijola in Providence is here to help.

Not only are we passionate about securing asylum for you, but we have a successful track record of advocating for our clients. When you work with Attorney Saikon Gbehan Isijola, she’ll gather the necessary evidence, file your application, and represent you at your interview. You’ll stay updated every step of the way so you can rest easy knowing that your asylum case is in good hands.

Ready to move forward with the asylum application process so you can stay in the country you’ve grown to consider “home?” Contact us today to get one step closer to your goal of remaining in the United States.

To schedule an initial consultation with us today, don’t hesitate to call us now at (401) 228-0001.


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