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Seeking asylum in the United States

When many people arrive in Washington, DC, or other areas of the country, they are often in fear for their lives. Often, they have fled violence in their own home and want nothing more than to set up a new, safe life in the United States. Unfortunately, the process of seeking asylum can seem overwhelming in the best of circumstances, but certainly to those who are trying to cope with the trauma they experienced in their homeland.

The ability to seek asylum is available to people who are either arriving in the country or are already physically present. The request can be made at a port-of-entry (such as an airport or border crossing), or the seeker can submit a Form I-589 at a Service Center. The asylum request must be made within a year of the applicant's arrival, unless it can be proved that there are extraordinary circumstances, such as changes in the person's home country or personal circumstances.

For an application to be approved, an immigration judge or asylum officer must determine whether the person meets the definition of a refugee, which is someone who feels he or she cannot return to his or her homeland because of the threat of persecution. Unfortunately, there are several issues that could result in a denial. These include a past criminal conviction of a "particularly serious crime" or the determination that the person had been settled safely in another country before coming to the United States, among other issues.

The determination of whether the person meets with the definition of a refugee will happen at any asylum interview and will likely last approximately one hour. While there are many items -- such as some form of identification -- that are necessary, applicants are also allowed to bring an interpreter if he or she cannot speak English, as well as an attorney. Such a professional can help those who want to create a safer life in Washington, DC, and other areas of the country fully understand the process they face and ensure that they have the necessary documents available.

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Chong Immigration Law PLLC
1629 K Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006

Phone: 202-798-7328
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