Asylum Eligibility in DC

Although there is no limit on the number of people who may be granted asylum in a given year, it is still necessary to complete an application process. To discuss your case, schedule a consultation with a DC asylum lawyer today.

Asylum Application Requirements

Asylum is a type of immigration benefit that allows an alien who is present in the United States to remain here under legal status because they have either suffered past persecution in the country they are from or because they have a well-founded fear of future persecution if they return to their home country. One of the key elements of asylum is that not only do you have to establish that you have been a victim of persecution or fear future persecution, you also have to prove that that persecution was based on your membership of a particular group of people. That group of people is limited to being a member of a specific race, religion, nationality, political belief, or “particular social group.” The particular social group category can encompass a lot of different types of people, but you do have to prove that that group is a distinct group with clear boundaries and a clear definition of who is and is not a member of that group.

Application Approval Rates

One of the most frustrating things about being an immigration attorney working on asylum cases is that the political climate can impact the number of people who are granted asylum from a particular region. There is a huge disparity between the rates of approval from one judge to another and from one court to another. There is actually a database put out by Syracuse University and it publishes the approval rates for each immigration judge throughout the country for each year. The differences in approval rates are just staggering. Some people have about a 15 percent approval rating and other people have anywhere from 70 to 80 percent. Geographically, these people are dealing with different immigrant populations, so that is one reason for the discrepancy, but even within the same courts in the same exact location, sometimes different judges can have wildly different approval ratings. It is unfortunate that it is very subjective.

Criminal Records and Asylum Approval

Having a U.S. criminal record most certainly affects your asylum status. There is a list of bars to receiving a grant of asylum. You are not eligible for asylum if you have committed a particularly serious crime while you’ve been in the US, if you have committed a serious non-political crime in another country before you came to U.S., if there is any evidence that you have participated in the persecution of others in your life, if there are reasonable grounds for considering you a danger to the security of the United States, or, finally, if you have had any involvement in terrorist activities. If the government deems you ineligible on any of these grounds, then you will be ineligible to apply for asylum.

However, if the government charges you with one of these grounds and you are in removal proceedings, you can actually fight the charge in the removal proceedings. Sometimes, in cases where they charge you in the first part of your case, you will have a trial in front of the judge to try to overcome the presumption that you’re a danger to the community or that you have one of the criminal bars. Only once you overcome that will you be eligible for asylum.

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