Asylum is a type of legal protection granted to individuals in the United States who meet certain criteria. With the help of a Chicago asylum lawyer, these individuals must prove that they have been persecuted — or fear that they will be persecuted — based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

You may seek asylum in Illinois if you are already in the United States or if you are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. If you are granted asylum, you may be permitted to remain in the United States and will likely be eligible to apply to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Who Can Seek Asylum?

Asylum can help people who have been the subjects of persecution, torture, or harm in their home countries obtain relief from removal from the United States. Asylum relief is based on the definition of “refugee,” which refers to someone who:

  • As a result of a well-founded fear of being persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, was outside of his or her native country; and
  • Due to that fear, was unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the persecution in that country.

Thus, in order to qualify for asylum, one must establish he or she meets the criteria to be a refugee.

Do I Qualify As A Refugee?

One of the most common questions asked of a Chicago asylum lawyer is whether or not you meet the grounds to qualify as a refugee. Refugees can only qualify for this formal classification if the person has no choice but to flee their country due to suffering, harm, or reasonable fear of future harm as the result of basic traits about them. This might include political opinion, sexuality, religion, race, or nationality. Only certain parties will qualify for asylum.

A Chicago asylum lawyer will help review your individual case to give you further information about whether or not you meet these grounds. Some of the most common bars to asylum include terrorist activity, persecution of others being seen as a danger to national security, previous asylum denial, filing for asylum greater than one year after coming to the United States, the commission of non-political crimes, and having a safe third country in which you could live. It is critical to speak with your Chicago immigration attorney if you believe that you could be qualified for asylum grounds because of any of these reasons.

Asylum seekers cannot bring in family members to the United States until after they have received formal asylum. You must discuss this with your Chicago asylum lawyer to determine at which point in time you are eligible to initiate an I-730 petition for qualifying children and your spouse. If you are planning on coming to the asylum office interview and are confused about being able to carry out communication, be prepared that the asylum office doesn’t provide you with individual interpreters for your interviews.

You must be prepared to have your own interpreter at your interview and your Chicago asylum lawyer can help you identify this person. Interpreters are often not provided at master calendar hearings either, however, you will be eligible to, at some point in time, share with the judge that you might need an interpreter for the individual hearing. During an individual hearing, you cannot bring your own interpreter.

Am I Eligible to Apply for Citizenship or Green Card After Receiving Asylum?

You can initiate an application for a green card if you are granted asylum after one year has passed from the date on which you were given final status. Many green cards for asylees are back-dated one year, which means that you could apply to begin the nationalization process in the United States four years after getting permanent residence. Green card holders are eligible to apply for US citizenship following 5 years of permanent residence that has been continuous.

What Are the Documents That I Need to Submit an Application for Asylum?

The criteria that are required in order to receive asylum in the United States are extensive and very complex. You might need proof of abuse from the applicant; information like newspaper articles that show prosecution or even police reports that document that violence has occurred against the applicant. This is a very lengthy process that requires the insight of an experienced Chicago immigration lawyer who is knowledgeable about asylum. Some of the documentation that an applicant must submit with their asylum petition includes;

  • A written and honest affidavit from the foreign national explaining the problems they have experienced in their native country and the reason why they can’t go back.
  • Three passport photos submitted on a white background.
  • Evidence of any children related to the applicant in addition to birth certificates and other personal details.
  • A copy of a passport and form I-94 if already present in the United States.
  • A valid marriage certificate if the application is being submitted with a spouse.
  • Legitimate forms of identification such as the foreign national’s birth certificate.

It can be very overwhelming to start the asylum process on your own. Scheduling a consultation with a Chicago asylum lawyer can help give you peace of mind and clarification about the preparation required and the timeline you might anticipate in an asylum case.

How to Qualify for Asylum

In order to qualify for asylum in Illinois, an applicant has to establish that (s)he qualifies as a refugee by proving that:

  • (S)he is unable or unwilling to return to the country of origin or the last country of residence.
  • (S)he is unable or unwilling to avail him- or herself of the persecution in that country – While this can involve proving that the circumstances in the home country are beyond the applicant’s ability to change or control, it can also involve proving that an applicant is not willing to find protection in the home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution.
  • (S)he is deserving of asylum relief.

Here, it should be noted that persecution is defined by international law as a “threat to life or freedom.”

Benefits of Asylum

Asylum allows foreign nationals to lawfully remain in the United States indefinitely. It also allows them to apply for work authorization and, after one year, apply for legal permanent residence. Another benefit of asylum in Illinois is that it is also available to the spouses and children accompanying or following principal asylum applicants.

Time Limits for Applying for Asylum

In general, those who wish to apply for asylum in Illinois must do so within one year of arriving in the United States. There can be exceptions to this limit, but it is generally best to pursue an asylum application as soon as possible when it is clear that this change in status is needed.

In addition to asylum, our Chicago immigration attorney can also help you obtain protection from return to a country in which you fear harm by applying for:

  • Withholding of Removal
  • Convention Against Torture
  • Temporary Protected Status

Hire a Chicago Asylum Attorney

Hiring an asylum attorney in Illinois can significantly help during the application process. The experienced Chicago immigration attorneys at Adesina Law Firm, PC can assist you with all of your asylum needs.

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