A person claiming asylum is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country. This can be the result of persecution, or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of at least one of the five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Persecution is defined as a threat to life or freedom, or the infliction of suffering, or harm upon those who differ in a way regarded as offensive. The applicant must establish that one of the five protected grounds was, or will be, one central reason for the persecution. The persecution must be inflicted by the government or group(s) that the government is unable or unwilling to control. Harsh conditions shared by many, general civil strife, or anarchy, are generally not considered persecution by the courts.
- hire a licensed attorney
- write your story with as much detail as possible
- provide accurate testimony and credible evidence
- prepare corroborating evidence, if necessary
- fabricate a story or ask someone to create one on your behalf
- submit fraudulent documents
- post messages on any social media that can compromise the applicant’s claim
- file the application late
An attorney who has experience with asylum claims can provide the necessary legal advice to analyze the facts and evidence in light of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Code of Federal Regulations and case law to help prepare the asylum application.
The applicant must specifically identify all the acts of persecution and the harm he or she suffered in order to meet the criteria for burden under the United States immigration laws. Always be honest with your attorney, and provide only the truth in your written story.
This includes the applicant’s demeanor, candor, or responsiveness when testifying; the inherent plausibility of the account presented; consistency between the person’s oral and written statements; and the consistency of such statements with other evidence on record. The totality of the circumstances are taken into consideration by the trier of fact.
Depending upon the case, the applicant may be required to provide corroborating evidence. While the applicant’s testimony can be sufficient to sustain a finding for asylum, the trier of fact may determine that more evidence is needed to corroborate the claim. Try to obtain as many documents as possible to support the claim. Save all envelopes and proof of mailing, if documents are being sent by family or friends from overseas. If the applicant has made this effort and still cannot provide such evidence, this will be taken into account when reviewing the case.
If, after being given notice of the consequences of filing a frivolous asylum application, the government determines the applicant knowingly made a frivolous application for asylum, he or she will be permanently ineligible for any benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In some instances the government will send the documents to the forensic lab to determine authenticity. What this means is that a document expert will closely examine a questionable document in order to confirm or deny its authenticity. If the document proves to be fraudulent, trying to prove that the rest of your story isn’t fraudulent will be near impossible. While tempting, submitting such a document when you don’t have a real one is never worth risking your asylum claim getting denied.
The government will investigate the applicant’s activities while in the United States. Any conduct that is inconsistent or adverse to any part of the claim will be identified. While this may not be directly related to the reason the applicant is claiming asylum, this will result in a denial of the claim.
The application for asylum must be filed within one (1) year of arrival. If filed after one (1) year of arrival, the applicant must demonstrate either: the existence of changed circumstances in the country or activities that the applicant becomes involved in outside the country that materially affects the applicant’s eligibility for asylum; or extraordinary circumstances that were not intentionally created by the applicant through his or her own action or inaction. The applicant must also show that those circumstances were directly related to the failure in filing the application.
A careful analysis of the facts of the claim and evidence to be presented is required to determine if it meets the legal requirements of the United States immigration laws. The applicant’s credibility in his or her claim for asylum that supports the legal definition of persecution, based upon one of the five protected grounds, must be established as a baseline for relief. For more information, it is recommended that interested parties consult with a legal professional who is experienced in handling in immigration law matters.