Chicago Asylum Immigration Lawyer

Are you unsafe in your home country? The Chicago asylum immigration lawyers at Cho Immigration Law have more than 30 years of experience handling asylum and refugee cases, and we can help.

Individuals at risk of violence, torture, persecution, or other human rights violations in their home country can seek asylum within 1 year of arrival in the U.S. Eligibility for asylum is not influenced by the circumstances of the applicant’s arrival; instead, asylum seekers only need to prove that their case establishes a certifiable cause for protection.

The process required for seeking asylum varies depending on whether the applicant has applied previously, if the asylum seeker is in active removal proceedings with USCIS, and if initial proceedings resulted in a denial. Once approved, asylum seekers are granted protection and can apply for lawful permanent resident status after 1 year.

If you are seeking safety through Asylum in the U.S., call an asylum immigration lawyer at Cho Immigration Law for a free consultation. Call (312) 853-3088.

What Is an Asylum Seeker?

Asylum seekers are immigrants who have fled their home country due to persecution, violence, abuses of human rights, and other dangerous conditions. They gain protection in another country by applying for asylum. These vulnerable immigrants have not yet been granted asylee, or legal, status upon entry to the United States. 

Instead, they reside in the U.S. while waiting on approval of their application for legal status. Once this application is approved, asylum seekers become asylees. If their application is denied or their case no longer qualifies for protection, asylum seekers may face deportation.

Who Is Eligible for Asylum in the U.S.?

A foreign citizen facing persecution, threat of violence, or other infringements on his or her human rights may qualify for asylum status in the United States if they are related to a protected ground: race, religion, political opinion, membership in a particular social group, or national origin. 

However, an applicant must provide proof of the inciting conditions that qualify him or her for this status. Additionally, applicants must reside in the United States at the time of submitting an application, referred to as Form I-589. 

There are three means of seeking asylum in the U.S.: the affirmative process, the defensive process, or an Asylum Merits Interview with a credible fear determination. The process for obtaining asylum will depend on the applicant’s circumstances of arrival, whether they are facing deportation, and whether they have previously applied for asylum.

Affirmative Asylum Processing

To qualify for affirmative asylum, applicants must be present in the United States and submit an application within 1 year of their arrival. The affirmative asylum process does not discriminate against or deny applicants based on the circumstances of their arrival or their current immigration status. If an applicant is unable to apply for asylum within 1 year of arrival, he or she must demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances affected his or her ability to apply promptly.

If your application is denied, USCIS will issue a Notice to Appear and forward your case to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). At this stage, an immigration judge will conduct a “de novo” hearing for your case and issue a decision that is independent of the USCIS determination. If your case remains denied at this stage, you may be able to file an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Asylum Merits Interview/Positive Fear Determination

If expedited removal proceedings are initiated against you, and you express a fear of persecution, fear of torture, fear of returning to your home country, or the intention to apply for asylum, USCIS will perform a credible fear screening. To execute this screening, a USCIS officer will conduct an interview to determine the credibility of your expressed concerns. 

If you pass your screening, USCIS will hold an asylum merits interview to determine your eligibility for protection or withholding of removal proceedings. Then, you may be instructed to file an Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal (Form I-589) to USCIS. By submitting this form, your case is placed into the defensive asylum process.

Defensive Asylum Processing

When asylum is requested as a defense against removal proceedings, the defensive asylum process is initiated. To qualify for defensive asylum processing, applicants must currently be in removal proceedings with USCIS. Typically, applicants arrive at this stage through a denial of the initial affirmative asylum process, a referral from an immigration judge, or after a credible fear determination initiated by expedited removal proceedings. 

Defensive asylum cases are heard in adversarial proceedings, where an immigration judge considers arguments from the applicant (or his or her attorney) and USCIS. The immigration judge may grant you asylum at this stage or, if you do not qualify for relief from removal proceedings, order your removal from the United States. 

What Conditions Qualify for Asylum?

To qualify for asylum, applicants must demonstrate that conditions in their home country provide certifiable cause for a fear of persecution, torture, or other human rights violations. 

Typically, conditions that qualify a candidate for asylum include fear of persecution based on political or religious practices, ethnicity or nationality, or membership in a protected social group. Social groups that frequently qualify for asylum include LGBTQ+ individuals and women seeking protection from violence.

Do you qualify for asylum? The Chicago attorneys at Cho Immigration Law can help. Call (312) 853-3088.

How Long Does Asylum Last in the United States?

Asylum lasts until an asylee no longer qualifies for protection. Asylees are eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status after 1 year of asylum, as long as they have maintained residence during that time and have not had their asylum status terminated. Unlike refugees, asylees are not required to apply for legal status. However, this can provide a path to citizenship for asylum seekers who do not intend to return to their home country. 

FAQs About Asylum-Based Immigration in the United States

What Benefits Are Available to Asylum Seekers?

Asylees in the United States have several rights and responsibilities. Upon the approval of asylee status, asylees are granted many of the rights afforded to citizens, such as the right to apply for government identification documents, the right to live and work in the U.S., the right to attend public school, the right to police assistance, and the right to apply for lawful permanent resident status upon qualification. However, similar to citizens, asylees must obey federal and local laws, register for selective service (if applicable), and pay taxes. 

Can Asylum Seekers Be Deported?

Asylum seekers can only be deported once it is determined that they do not qualify for asylum or their application for asylum is denied. This can occur if conditions change that impact the likelihood of adverse conditions upon return to the asylee’s home country.