Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seattle Immigration Lawyer | Asylum Basics Continued, The Application

If you are not in removal proceedings and wish to apply for asylum, you must file a form I-589. Simply filling out the application is not sufficient. You should attach a detailed declaration, either written by you or, better yet, with the help an immigration attorney, of the persecution that you suffered and/or fear that you will suffer if you are returned to your home country. This is your chance to tell your story. As traumatizing as it likely will be, now is the time to write down all the details. When did the events happen? Where did the events happen? Who was involved? Why did they happen to you? Why were you the target of persecution?

A powerful declaration will be easy for the asylum officer to follow, and, most importantly, will show the connection between the persecution and the grounds for asylum (e.g. membership in a particular social group) that you are claiming in a simple and direct fashion.

You must attach additional substantial documentary evidence corroborating your claim. Examples include affidavits from witnesses, media reports of persons in similar situations suffering persecution, as well as country condition reports by the State Department and NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch. If available, an opinion letter or declaration from an expert in the field, or a doctor or psychologist can be very persuasive. The Instructions for Form I-589 and the form itself can be can be found at the USCIS website here.

An experienced immigration attorney can work with you to assemble a strong asylum application, including a legal brief that discusses the legal arguments on which your claim is based. (In Washington State, if you cannot afford an attorney, I recommend contacting Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which offers free or low-cost immigration services for low-income individuals and families. There are similar non-profits in other states.)

Stay tuned for the next posting on the Asylum Interview and Officer’s Decision.


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