The right of asylum refers to the concept of a person who has been persecuted by their own country or fears persecution due to his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group being protected by another sovereign entity. Asylum is a form of protection in the United States available to people who satisfy the definition of refugee, are already in the United States, and are seeking admission at a port of entry.
The process of claiming asylum can be extremely grueling for immigrants, as they must submit to interviews with American officials in which they will be asked very detailed questions about their experiences. A Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, typically needs to be filed as soon as possible in order to avoid possible removal or deportation. Our immigration lawyers in Houston can take all the necessary steps to help you avoid possible deportation and hopefully allow you to obtain legal status. You can have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (832) 530-4070 to set up a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Asylum in Texas
- Affirmative Asylum Processing With USCIS
- Defensive Asylum Processing with EOIR
- Harris County Asylum Resources
Affirmative Asylum Processing With USCIS
In order to apply for asylum in the United States through the affirmative asylum process, an alien will need to either be physically present in the United States or seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. A Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, will need to be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within one year of the alien’s last arrival in the United States.
After USCIS receives the application, the immigrant will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of the application and a notice to visit the alien’s nearest application support center (ASC) for fingerprinting. UCIS will also schedule an interview with an asylum officer based on the following order of priority:
- First Priority — Applications scheduled for an interview but rescheduled at applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;
- Second Priority — Applications pending 21 days or less since filing; and
- Third Priority — All other pending affirmative asylum applications scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.
Immigrants are allowed to bring attorneys to their interviews but must bring their own interpreters if they cannot proceed in English.
The asylum officer will make a determination on eligibility, and a supervisory asylum officer will review that decision to make sure it is consistent with immigration law. Decisions can generally be picked up at asylum offices about two weeks after an interview, although decisions may be delayed when an alien is currently invalid immigration status, was interviewed at a USCIS field office, has pending security checks, or has a case that is being reviewed by asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters.
Defensive Asylum Processing with EOIR
A defensive application for asylum occurs when an immigrant requests asylum as a defense against removal from the United States in proceedings in immigration court with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Defensive asylum processing is generally the result of one of two actions:
- Immigrants are referred to an Immigration Judge by USCIS after they have been determined to be ineligible for asylum at the end of the affirmative asylum process; or
- They are placed in removal proceedings because they were caught in the United States or at a United States port of entry without proper legal documents or in violation of their immigration status, or were caught by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trying to enter the United States without proper documentation, were placed in the expedited removal process, and were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture by an asylum officer.
Unlike the non-adversarial interview that is part of the affirmative asylum process, defensive application for asylum involves an adversarial court-like hearing in which a judge hears arguments from the immigrant (or his or her attorney) and the federal government. The immigration court, however, will provide an interpreter for defensive application for asylum hearings.
If the judge finds that an alien is eligible for asylum, the alien can be granted a green card. When a judge finds an immigrant ineligible for asylum, the judge will determine whether the alien is eligible for any other forms of relief from removal.
When the immigrant is not entitled to any other forms of relief, the judge will order the alien to be removed from the United States. Both parties have the right to appeal a judge’s decision in these cases.
Harris County Asylum Resources
Asylum Office for Texas | Case Status | USCIS — Visit this section of the USCIS website to learn more about the asylum process in the United States. You can find information about permission to work in the United States, bringing your family to the United States, and filing for a green card. The website also allows you to access a Form I-589.
Asylum | USCIS — Learn more about the Houston Asylum Office. Check your case status and check the processing times. You can also find an overview of the services provided.
Contact a Houston Immigration Attorney
Are you seeking asylum in Southeast Texas? You will want to make sure you contact The Gonzalez Law Group as soon as possible. Our Houston immigration attorneys help individuals in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.