Immigration Asylum and Persecution

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asylum lawyer new york city

The asylum immigration lawyers at NYC based Lightman Law Firm have many years of experience helping immigrants from countries throughout the world apply for asylum, including Russia, Ukraine, El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Liberia, and Guinea, just to name a few.

What’s the difference between past persecution and a well-founded fear of future persecution?

An applicant for asylum is a person who has suffered past persecution or who has a well-founded fear of future persecution because of their race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a social group.

What is Past Persecution?

If a person had already suffered harm that rises to the level of persecution, and they leave their country after the harm happens, they are pursuing a “past persecution” asylum case. 

Our legal team can help you put your best case forward, because it must always be remembered that the applicant for asylum based on past persecution has to show, among other things, that (a) the persecution really happened, and (b) those things that were done to you rise to the level of what is considered “persecution,” and (c) that the harm was done to you because of membership in one of the five protected categories (race, religion, political opinion, nationality, social group). 

As our immigration lawyers have experience with many different kinds of asylum cases, we know what kinds of things the Asylum Office and Court are looking for in a case, and what kinds of things you will need to show past persecution – things like medical records, witness statements, and evidence about country conditions.

If an applicant for asylum meets their “burden” of showing past persecution, meaning they show the person making the decision (the Asylum Office or the Judge) that the past persecution really happened, there is something called a “rebuttable presumption” that this person also has a well-founded fear of future persecution. In other words, if your government persecuted you because you are a political dissident, there is a high chance that if you go back, you will be persecuted again for your political opinion.  

Even if you succeed at showing past persecution, you still want to be aware that the prosecutor may try to show that it is still safe for you to go back – they may try to argue that there are changed country conditions, or that you can safely relocate to another part of your country. 

These are just examples of things called “rebuttals.”  The experienced immigration lawyers at Lightman Law Firm can help you prepare for these kinds of issues, so you can be ready.

What is a well-founded fear of future persecution?

As noted above, a person can apply for asylum if they have already suffered past harm, or if they have a well-founded fear of future persecution (even if they have not suffered past harm). 

What does “well-founded” mean? According to the law, an applicant has to show both subjective and objective components to their fear, and there has to be a showing that there is reasonable likelihood that the persecution that is feared will in fact happen. This does not mean that an applicant has to show that it is absolutely certain that the harm will happen, but a showing of some likelihood is needed. This is a very nuanced analysis and involves looking at not only the applicant’s unique set of circumstances but also country conditions and conditions in the applicant’s locality.  

Like a “past persecution” case, an applicant who is alleging well-founded fear of future harm must also show that the harm they fear rises to the level of what is considered “persecution,” and that it is because of or on account of their membership in a protected category. They must also overcome the same “rebuttals” that the Government may put forth, such as changed country conditions, or an allegation that the applicant can simply relocate to another part of the country.  

The attorneys at Lightman Law Firm have many years of experience in asylum, and can help you with your asylum case, to show that your fear of returning is in fact “well founded” and that you meet the other requirements.  Give us a call or fill out the contact form below to schedule a consultation!

Our asylum immigration lawyers in New York City can help in Russian, French, and Spanish.