The USCIS and the Maryland Asylum Process

There are many different factors that may be confusing or difficult to keep track of when going through the Maryland asylum process. For this reason, it is very important for a person to retain a Maryland asylum lawyer if they are preparing to go through this process. An experienced attorney can ease any frustrations a person may experience, and can work to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, is the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that is in charge of issuing benefits to individuals. While this branch is not in charge of taking people out of the country, it is the branch charged with reviewing, evaluating, and granting applications for asylum.

If an individual applies for asylum with USCIS but is ineligible for this benefit due to coming to the United States unlawfully or due to a criminal background or prior immigration violations, then USCIS can refer the applicant’s case to the immigration court. The immigration court has the authority to remove people from the country, or to order people removed from the country.

Applying for Asylum

There are three important things everyone should know when applying for asylum in Maryland:

  • The first thing about which an applicant should be aware is the need to apply within one year of entering the US.
  • The second thing is that the applicant must not underestimate the evidentiary requirements that he or she must satisfy during the application process. During this process, nothing is assumed; it is the applicant’s responsibility to prove his or her case. Because of this, an applicant must submit extensive documentary evidence showing that the persecution is really occurring in his or her home country and that he or she will be persecuted on account of his or her membership in a social group.
  • The third thing about which an applicant must be aware is that the application process involves a specific timeline with which the applicant must comply.

Application Timeline

The specific timeline with which the applicant must comply will be dependent upon his or her individual case. If the applicant is applying to USCIS, he or she must be aware of the deadlines for submission of evidence. If the applicant is applying directly to the immigration court, he or she must be aware of the deadlines that the judge has set for his or her submission of documents prior to the individual interview. Additional timeframe issues may also exist, such as the date by which the applicant must have his or her fingerprints taken and when the applicant can apply for work authorization.

Approval Rates

In addition, applicants should be aware of the climate of approval and approval rates and trends in the individual office to which they are applying. Applicants should also be very aware of the specific rules of that office, including any relevant deadlines for  the submission of documents, procedures for the submission of documents, and procedures for requesting expedited interviews as such procedures differ from office to office. In this way, it is important that potential applicants know the rules and procedures of the local USCIS office before they move forward in the application process.

Submitting an Application

Individuals not involved in removal proceedings must submit applications for asylum to USCIS because USCIS is the only entity that has the legal authority to evaluate and issue decisions on applications for immigration benefits. This entity has exclusive jurisdiction over certain applications, including affirmative asylum applications. Because of this, individuals not involved in removal proceedings are legally required to submit asylum applications to USCIS.

The Application Process

There is a connection between all of the branches of government that are housed under US or under the Department of Homeland Security. For instance, if USCIS denies an affirmative asylum application, USCIS will send the applicant’s file directly to the immigration court, which will then initiate removal proceedings.

USCIS also communicates with the Department of State regarding applications that include information that may be sensitive or of interest to members of the national security apparatus in the United States or individuals in the Department of State. The Department of State can request to review the applicant’s file and look at the information contained therein for intelligence-building purposes.

In this way, communication exists between different branches under the Department of Homeland Security, despite the fact that decisions regarding affirmative asylum applications fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of USCIS.

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