Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Asylum Law Changes May Be Coming

The U.S. Government may grant a person asylum if that person can show that he or she has a reasonable fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.  Reasonable fear has been defined by the Supreme Court as at least a 10% chance of the persecution occurring.  Currently, an asylum application must be filed within one year of the person entering the United States.  If asylum is granted, the asylee can apply for permanent residency, and then citizenship.

If a person has not filed an asylum petition within one year, that person could still be eligible for withholding of removal.  However, the standard is higher.  The person would have to show that he or she is more likely than not to face persecution.  Those granted withholding of removal are not later entitled to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

If the immigration reform bill currently before the Senate becomes law, a major change to U.S. asylum will take place.  The one year deadline in which to file an asylum petition will be removed.  But that's not all.  All of those people who were granted withholding of removal solely because they did not meet the one year deadline will be eligible to have their status changed to that of an asylee.

Currently, the Government protects the one year deadline zealously in Immigration Court proceedings.  Removing the deadline would open this form of relief to numerous people who would otherwise be ineligible to remain in the safety of the United States.

By:  William J. Kovatch, Jr.
(703) 837-8832


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