Value of a Virginia Attorney in Asylum Process

If an individual belongs to a group that is persecuted, or has reason to believe that they would be persecuted in their home country, they may be able to stay in the United States by seeking asylum. If an individual is in need of asylum in Virginia they will want to ensure that they do not make a mistake in the application process, and that they make the best case for asylum that they can. It is very helpful to work with an experienced Virginia asylum lawyer in order to ensure a proper handling of the process.

Hiring a Lawyer

Asylum law is extremely complex and it is constantly changing because it is totally shaped by case law, especially if someone is claiming that their persecution occurred on account of their membership in a particular social group. Those social groups are constantly being defined and redefined by the courts. It is a huge area of immigration law, and it is almost impossible to navigate without an attorney who is familiar with the system. It is important to have somebody with that experience.

Also, another important reason to have a knowledgeable attorney is that there is a huge discrepancy among the approval rates of different judges, even within the same court. There is actually a publication by Syracuse University that reports on the percentage of grants and denials of each immigration judge in the country each year. Some judges have approval rates of under 5% while others have approval rates approaching 90%. An individual should know what kind of judge they are going in front of before they present their claim, and an attorney can help them know what to do with that information.

Asylum Defense Strategies

The first strategy for an attorney in preparing someone’s asylum claim is identifying exactly what their social group is going to be. Clearly defining their membership in a particular social group in front of the judge is an important first step.

Other important steps for an attorney include the collection and submission of evidence to support their claim. In many cases, it is very difficult to collect hard evidence of their individual persecution because there often is no evidence. If they are fleeing a country, they are usually not going to have much written documentation to prove their claim. Instead, they may need to use things like sworn affidavits from other people who are aware of their story or evidence from experts like professors or foreign policy experts who have familiarity with the overall situation in their home country. They can verify the existence of the group in which the individual is claiming membership as well as the government’s role in persecuting this group, or their inability to protect them.

Reviewing Applicant’s Story

Another thing that is important for an attorney to do before a final hearing is to review the applicant’s story because these stories often involve incredibly traumatic situations, and with time the details can become blurred in a person’s memory. It is the lawyer’s job to nail down these details and avoid giving the prosecutor the opportunity to impeach the person’s credibility based on details that have become hazy with time or that he or she might have just forgotten. PTSD can also contribute to this.