I am here in the United States, but I am afraid to return to my country of origin. What can I do?
Non-citizens who are physically present in the United States and are afraid to return to their country of origin can apply for asylum in the United States.
Asylum is a form of protection that the government gives to foreign nationals.
The laws pertaining to asylum are very complex and you should definitely hire a licensed and experienced lawyer so that you can put the best case forward. We have a line dedicated to asylum callers: (212) 643-0985.
What kind of experience does Lightman Law Firm have with asylum?
Guy Menahem, a lawyer at the Lightman Law Firm, has spent his entire legal career in the immigration field. His focus within immigration law is asylum and deportation defense. Mr. Menahem has represented asylum seekers before the Asylum Office, the Immigration Court, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is fluent in Spanish, and conversant in Russian and French. He has represented asylum applicants from several former Soviet republics such as Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, in addition to several Latin American and Caribbean countries, China, and West Africa.
What kind of asylum cases have you done?
We’ve covered many different types of asylum, including religious converts from Central Asia; LGBT (gay and lesbian) from the Caribbean and Russia; religion and political claims from China; FGM, political opinion, and tribal conflict cases from West Africa; and spouse abuse claims from Central America. These are just examples of the myriad of cases we’ve covered.
In addition to the types of claims we have experience with, Mr. Menahem and the Lightman Law Firm have strength in litigating the important theoretical and legal issues surrounding asylum cases, both in the Immigration Court and before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). We’ve fought on behalf of a client who had to prove to the Immigration Court that she was the member of a “social group.”
We’ve succeeded at helping clients overcome the one-year time bar based on extraordinary circumstances; we’ve litigated the issue of whether an activist and journalist could be deemed an “expert” to testify on behalf of one of our clients in an asylum case.
How soon after I arrive must I apply for asylum?
The Immigration laws as they currently stand require a non-citizen to apply for asylum within one year of their entry into the United States. This rule is quite strict, and if you miss this deadline, it will be much harder for you to be granted asylum, regardless of how strong your case is. There are exceptions to the one-year rule, but they are not easy to obtain.
If you are interested in discussing your asylum case with an immigration attorney, please call reach out to our office immediately.
We have attorneys who speak Spanish, Russian, and French, and our attorneys have been successful with asylum claims, both those that have been filed “on time” and those that needed an exception to the one year filing rule. We have a line dedicated to asylum callers: (212) 643-0985.
What can I do if more than one year has passed since I entered the United States? Can I still file for asylum?
As the law currently stands, the USCIS and the Immigration Judges are only supposed to grant asylum to those individuals who file for asylum within one year of their entry into this country. However, there are exceptions to that rule. For one, you can try to argue that there are extraordinary circumstances that made you unable to file on time.
An example of an “extraordinary circumstance” is misconduct by an attorney, such as taking your case and not filing it; or serious illness or injury. Another exception to the one-year filing rule is a material change in the country conditions in your country of origin, which create a new situation where you now fear returning. An application for asylum must be filed within a reasonable time after those changed circumstances arise. Because the decision to grant the exception to the one-year filing deadline is discretionary (and the government will tend to err on the side of not granting the exception), it is essential that you speak to a licensed and experienced attorney about your case.
Attorneys at the Lightman Law Firm have been successful at obtaining asylum for individuals who have filed after they have been in the United States well over one year.
What can I do if I cannot overcome the one year filing rule? Is there any hope for me?
Even if you are not successful at obtaining an “exception” to the one year filing deadline, you still may be able to remain in the United States, and seek protection from the U.S. government. There are two other forms of protection from harm, one called “withholding of removal” and the other called “protection under Article III of the Convention against Torture.” (The latter is often shortened to “CAT protection” by those in the field).
Neither of these forms of relief require that you file within one year of your entry, so there’s no problem with filing “late.”
However, only an Immigration Judge can grant withholding of removal and CAT protection. They cannot be given to you by USCIS. It is important to know that there are also very important differences in terms of what rights you will have after you are granted withholding of removal or CAT protection, as compared with the rights you would have with a grant of asylum.
Call our asylum line today to discuss this with our attorney. (212) 643-0985.
What are the grounds for seeking asylum in the United States?
You can seek asylum protection in this country if you are afraid to return to your homeland either because you have already suffered past persecution, or you have a well-founded fear of future persecution.
According to current U.S. Immigration law, asylum can be granted due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group. It is important to work with an experienced asylum lawyer because the definitions of these five categories, and who fits into these categories, are controlled not only by the statute, but also Federal case law and regulatory guidance.
What if I lose my asylum case before the Immigration Court?
You have the right to appeal your case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA sits in Falls Church, Virginia.
It is the court that hears appeals of the decisions of the Immigration Courts. Guy Menahem, the lawyer at Lightman Law Firm who heads our firm’s asylum practice, has extensive experience appealing cases before the BIA. If you have lost your asylum case before the Immigration Court, you only have 30 days to file your notice of appeal before the BIA.
Time is of the essence.
Guy Menahem of the Lightman Law Firm can guide you through the complicated – and scary – asylum process. We have a line dedicated to asylum callers: (212) 643-0985. Call us today to schedule a face-to-face consultation.
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