Immigration law blog

Asylum – What happens when you have fear of returning to your home country?

A large part of our practice at L.I.H. Law is dedicated to helping those who have fear of returning to their home country on account of some form of harm, threats, or persecution they faced or may face in the future. The U.S. offers a form of protection for people such as this—it is called asylum. If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. 

To be eligible for asylum, you have to show that you have suffered persecution or fear that you will suffer persecution based on your:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group (can include many different circumstances such as victims of domestic violence, victims of gang violence etc.), or
  • Political opinion

However, a very important aspect of asylum is that you must submit your asylum application (Form I-589) within one year of your arrival to the U.S. There are exceptions to the one-year rule, such as changed circumstances, but it makes your case much more difficult to win. Not submitting an application within one year is a common obstacle that those applying for asylum have to overcome.

You can apply for asylum even if you have not been caught by immigration authorities or are not in immigration court proceedings. Or, you can apply for asylum defensively, meaning you are already in immigration court proceedings. If you win asylum, you are granted asylee status which is permission to be in the U.S. You keep that status for one year then may apply for your green card (permanent residency).

As always, you should consult with an immigration attorney before proceeding with asylum, but a few of the proofs or evidence that is needed to make a stronger asylum case are:

  • Proof if anyone else in your family has been granted asylum in the United States or abroad;
  • Pictures of events that occurred in your country;
  • Pictures of any scars from your injuries;
  • Copies of any newspaper or magazine articles that mention you or your family or events that affected you;
  • Any documents from your country that show the following:
    • Proof of membership in an organization;
    • Police reports;
    • Medical/hospital records;
    • Letters from doctors;
  • Letter from you with details as to why you fear returning back to your country with names, dates, places AS DETAILED AS POSSIBLE;
  • Letters from anyone who knows you from your country and is a witness to what happened to you or why you left your country.

L.I.H. Law is a trusted immigration law firm with our office conveniently located in Seattle, near the Seattle Space Needle (2nd Ave and Denny Way).

Our well-respected attorneys exclusively practice immigration law, covering diverse topics: asylum, deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), detention cases, fiancé visas (K-1 visas), green cards, immigration status for victims of domestic violence or other crimes, naturalization applications, and much more.

The immigration attorneys and professional staff at L.I.H. Law are dedicated to providing the right solutions to meet our clients’ immigration needs.  Our entire staff is fluent in Spanish and has served clientele from around the world.

Supporting our local immigration community is important to us. Our immigration lawyers and staff are active in volunteering for various community events and organizations, and conducting pro-bono work.

Lesley Irizarry-Hougan

Lesley has been practicing law since July, 2005. She has significant experience in representing clients in Immigration Court, both detained and non-detained cases; appeals from immigration judge decisions, both at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Lesley is actively involved in her community, regularly volunteering at the Latina/o Bar Association Legal Clinic and the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinic. Lesley Irizarry-Hougan ha estado practicando exclusivamente leyes de inmigración desde Julio del 2005. Ella tiene experiencia significante representando clientes en la Corte de Inmigración; apelando las decisiones del juez de inmigración, ambos a la Corte de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Noveno Circuito y la Corte de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Oeste de Washington. Lesley también se especializa en aplicaciones afirmativas, incluyendo aplicaciones para la tarjeta verde (Mica), asilo, NACARA, y aplicaciones de ciudadanía archivado en los Estados Unidos y Servicios de Inmigración. Lesley también hace certificaciones de trabajo, incluyendo aplicaciones de cocineros especializados. Ella habla español nativo.

L.I.H. Law, P.S., Immigration Lawyer, Seattle, WA