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Asylum in the United States

There are people traveling to areas of the United States, including Washington, DC, because they want a better life than they have in their country. In fact, some people are fleeing violence that could ultimately result in their death. Unfortunately, they may find upon arrival that the asylum process is complicated to navigate on their own.

An asylee meets the definition of a refugee -- an international standard. That means, he or she has a credible fear of persecution based on their race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group or nationality. The main difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee is that the former seeks protection from a port of entry or inside of the country while the latter applies while outside of the country.

Those seeking protection can do so either affirmatively or defensively. Regardless of the circumstances, asylees must prove that they have a well-founded fear, but the affirmative process is for those who are physically present in the country and apply at a port of entry; a USCIS officer will make a determination of whether the applicant will be approved. If not, the applicant can go through the defensive process, which can also apply to those who have been apprehended by ICE or CBP officers. In this case, an immigration judge will determine whether the person qualifies for asylum.

The asylum process can be complicated and may be especially difficult for non-English speakers. Compounding this issue, attorneys are not provided for those going through the process, even though some reports indicate that those who have legal help while going through the defensive process have a higher chance of being successful; in fact, almost half of people seeking asylum in the fiscal year 2017 who had an attorney helping them were successful. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals in Washington, DC and other areas of the country who are willing to help.

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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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