Do you really need an attorney to apply for asylum in the United States? The simplest, correct answer is ‘No.’
Now, let’s ask the question in a slightly different way by adding one little word.
Do you really need an attorney to successfully apply for asylum in the United States? Now the simplest, correct answer is ‘Yes.’
As living conditions in various countries around the world become more difficult because of nationalistic, ethnic, and religious persecution, more and more people are seeking a safe haven for themselves and their families.
The unfortunate reality is that there are more people seeking asylum than there are safe haven countries willing or able to take them in. Every country has to measure and know their capability of taking in refugees without endangering the welfare and security of its residents.
Any well-meaning asylum-seeker hopes to find a safe place for their family to call home and enjoy a peaceful existence. The fact that countries offer asylum indicates that they understand the perspectives and needs of the asylum-seekers.
Nonetheless, each country has established procedures by which they determine the veracity of the asylum claim and also which admissions are in the overall best interests of the country. This slight differential of interests between the seeker and their preferred country of asylum becomes problematic only when the number of seekers overwhelmingly outnumber the number of civil servants required to process all the applications in a timely manner.
When you consider the already complex and detailed process, the asylum offices and courts cannot afford to squander their time handling cases with incomplete and inaccurately prepared documents. The unfortunate result of appearing in an Immigration Office or Court without adequate preparation is that it will not end well for the asylum-seeker. More than likely, the applicant will be deported.
Statistics prove an applicant with a licensed Immigration Attorney is five times more likely to be granted admission to the United States than a person acting on their own or using translators, paralegals, or other advisors.
Consulting with an Attorney before applying for asylum also increases the chances for success. We understand that this is not always possible. That doesn’t mean that an applicant should not hire an Attorney later. It actually means that the need to hire one later becomes significantly more important.
A good Immigration Attorney will help prepare the petition for asylum, ensure that all of the documentary evidence of the case is immediately available, and will counsel the candidate on how to respond properly to questions asked during their interview with the immigration authorities.
A reputable Attorney will also accompany his or her client to the interview to help ensure success. In the event that the client’s request is denied at the interview, the Attorney would also prepare the case for appeal and accompany the client to the hearing.
If you or someone you know wants asylum in the U.S., be sure to secure the services of a professional, licensed Immigration Attorney who is familiar with the laws and the immigration process.
Immigration Attorneys of ACS Law Offices are multilingual, including Chinese and Russian. They have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise. We are available to review your situation and advise you on the best and right way to resolve your tenuous status.
This is Allan Samson continuing my discussion on immigration law.
I’m a practicing attorney in San Francisco and a professor as well in Business Administration in the fields of Law and Business Administration.
I’d like to give a general introduction to asylum, how you apply for asylum, when should you apply for asylum.
Generally, as a matter of law you have to apply for asylum within one year of coming to the United States – 6, 8, 10, 11 months, if you are here longer than a year, unless there’s a convincing reason why you waited that long in applying for asylum (perhaps the country conditions in the country have changed) then I would suggest you not do this and apply beforehand, before one year.
You can apply for what’s called Withholding a Removal after one year but it’s not as good as asylum: asylum will allow you travel out of the United States and come back, Withholding a Removal will only allow you to remain in the United States but will not allow you to travel and come back.
If you’re coming to the United States and planning when you should apply for asylum, my advice is probably wait closer to the 12 month period (maybe 8, 9, 10 months) because this will give you the opportunity to collect documentation.
If there’s any one suggestion I could give in how to improve your chances of success in applying for asylum, it’s documentation, a realistic story that shows you are afraid and documentation that shows that you’ve been punished or persecuted and you’re likely to face persecution again if you return to your country.
Now, there’s got to be a realistic basis for your fear in applying for asylum.
Let me give you an example of a non-realistic basis: let’s say you’re from England and you really believe that the Queen of England wants to kill you, she’s hired a contract killer to kill you – you firmly believe this, in your own mind this is true, but is the Queen of England likely to kill you? No, of course not.
So there is no realistic basis for your asylum. If you apply for asylum and you firmly believe this, the officer will deny your application for asylum by saying that this person has a realistic fear of returning to England in his own mind, but is there a realistic danger to he or she if he does return to England? The odds are, the chances are no, there is no way that the Queen of England is going to put out a contract killing on your life – but other countries you do have a danger and its those countries which have the best success rate in applying for asylum.
Now, if you do apply for asylum, you have to know a story. You have to develop a story. What happened to you, when it happened, how it happened and what happened. Be specific, give dates, describe the events that have happened to you, when it happened, how it happened…. Your story must be believable, must be convincing. Now, if it’s not a real story, if it’s a fake story once again as I mentioned in other lectures, immigration officials are professionals. They know how to spot, how to distinguish between a fake story and a realistic story so you’re not likely to be able to fool them in this regard so your story in this sense should be realistic, it should describe what has happened to you and it should be a “good story”.
A “good story” is supported by documentation. Let’s say you were beaten by the police: is there a police record, is there a hospital record?
Let’s say you put in the police record that somebody was threatening you, or that somebody was harming you… do you have a police report on file? Can you get a police report on file from your country?
Documentation is extremely important in building up your chance of success and asylum story.
Hi, this is Allan Samson, immigration lawyer operating in California.
I’d like to talk a little bit about asylum applications if you’re from countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and in a general sense, countries from the former Soviet Union.
There’s a strategy choice in applying for asylum from those countries. There are some stories, some reasons which have a greater success rate than others and Id like to talk about those right now. If you come from Russia, the greatest success rate would be if you’re homosexual or LGBT because of the Russian government policy to discriminate against gays and LGBT people. This is the basic reason, but once again it’s not… just don’t say you’re gay, show that you have been involved perhaps in the past in gay organizations in Russia, or gay clubs or with photographs of you in gay meetings.
If you’re living in the United States try and join gay organizations so you can get letters of support from new gay friends in the United States who will attest to the fact that yes, you are gay or you are LGBT.
You want to show that you really are gay, that you belong to gay organizations here in the United States, and that you have belonged to gay associations or gay organizations in Russia.
My Mother and Father were born in Russia but I don’t speak Russian – I grew up at a time where they wanted children to be Americanized so they never taught me Russian. I’m married to a Russian woman but she speaks better English than I speak Russian, so the only thing I know are the [inaudible] words which I cannot mention here.
Okay, the importance in an asylum application for Russia is a good story, letters of reference from friends in the United States, and if you can get any documentation… let’s say you were at a Gay pride parade in Moscow and the police broke it up. Maybe photographs of you in the parade or maybe if you were beaten and went to the hospital, hospital records.
The key things are records, dates and records. Maybe a police report? You put in a police report when they called you a gay bastard or a homosexual bastard and you put in a police report. You can show that police report in your asylum application.
Other good reasons to apply for asylum from Russia and from Ukraine would be religion, particularly in Russia : Seventh Day Adventists, or Jehovah's Witness.
I’ve handled a number of cases, gay cases and a number of Jehovah's Witness and Seventh Day Adventists cases and these are religions which are not tolerated by the Russian government.
The Russian government is now in a close alliance with Russian Orthodox religion which will not allow any competition from non- Russian Orthodox or other religions in Russia.
When I first started practicing law many years ago, a good story was that you’re anti-communist but of course now it makes no sense to be anti-communist, there is no longer communism in the Soviet Union so the key stories would be Religion, Religious Discrimination, Gay Discrimination and if by any chance you had the ‘good luck’ to be arrested or be beaten in anti-Putin demonstrations and you can document that you were arrested or beaten, you can certainly use this in a good asylum application in the United States.
Make certain that you haven’t lived in another country beforehand, make certain that have not lived in England or France or Germany beforehand because American law will say you should not be able to apply for asylum when you can go and live in Germany or France or England. Make sure you cannot live in any other country.
The American court system takes a long time and the American asylum application takes a long time.
Right now or several years ago when I was starting to practice you would have your asylum application interview 2 months after the USCIS received your asylum application. Now it’s probably almost a year before your get your asylum interview and this gives you the opportunity to apply for work authorization if no decision has made in your case for more than 7 months or more than 6 months, 180 days, you can apply for work permission.
If you need to work, you want to apply for asylum, you have a good case for asylum but you need to work in the meantime, right now is a good time because of the slowness of the American legal system, it will allow you to be able to get work permission while your application is being considered.
If your application is denied, (they never use the word denial, they say you didn’t give reasons to merit an approval) you’ll be put into removal proceedings or deportation proceedings in front of the immigration judge and you’ll have a chance to make the same case in front of the immigration judge.
Many clients that I have had have failed in applying for asylum, they’ve hired me as their attorney and have won in front of the immigration judge. I’ve filed a few cases myself where my client lost at the asylum interview, I felt it was a good case and I encouraged them to keep me as their lawyer when they were going in front of the immigration judge and those cases I won.
Just because you lose at basic level does not mean you cannot win at higher level. It’s certainly possible. Judges have more knowledge about the requirements for asylum than asylum officers do. So from Russia and Ukraine: political reasons, anti-government feeling, anti-government demonstration, gays and LGBT, and minority religious beliefs and memberships will be valid reasons for applying.
Probably don’t waste your time in applying for economic reasons. Another good reason would be spousal abuse: if your husband or wife beat you and your feared for your life and safety and you reported it to the police in Russia and the police did not protect you or they told you to go back to the house and you ere beaten again… this is a good reason to apply for asylum in the United States, if the government of your home country is not willing or able to protect you from spousal abuse. There are increasingly successful cases from Russia and from Latin America on this basis now.
Once again, spousal abuse, religion, sexual orientation and anti-Putin, anti-government sentiment and demonstrations are valid reasons to apply.
Once again, whatever you choose, make sure your story is good plan your story with your lawyer, do not ask your lawyer to lie for you, do not ask them to make up a story for you. If somebody asks me to make up a story I will say sorry, I don’t do it, I’m not willing to lose my license to practice and part of the reason I am so successful is because I have a good reputation in court and I have a good reputation among officials in the immigration department. They know that I will not make up a fake story so the story that my client presents is more believable because I have a good reputation and good lawyers have good reputations.
If you go to a lawyer that does not have a good reputation, your story will not be viewed with believability or credibility.
Okay, thank you very much for your attention.