Seeking Safety In The U.S.
Asylum Attorneys Chicago
Every year, the U.S. government grants asylum to thousands of people who come from countries beyond its borders. Such people are those facing persecution – or reasonably fear facing persecution – and can apply to enter or stay in the U.S. as asylum seekers.
Asylum candidates are those facing or fear persecution for their:
- Political opinion
- Membership in a certain social group
Attorney Alen Takhsh of Takhsh Law P.C. works to help keep immigrating clients safe when they come asking for asylum. He has successfully represented clients and their families seeking asylum because they feared what might happen to them in their home countries.
Takhsh Law P.C. can work with you through every step of your asylum application to increase your odds of gaining entry to the U.S. Ensuring that your application is as accurate and truthful as possible is critically important because it reduces your chance of facing removal proceedings in the future. A high-quality asylum application can also be a first step toward bringing your family with you, finding work in the U.S., and applying for a Green Card.
ASYLUM LAWYERS FOR YOUR FAMILY
Those who are granted asylum in the U.S. are one step closer to bringing their families with them. It’s only after you’ve been granted asylum, however, that including your spouse and children younger than 21 is possible. That’s why getting help from an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can mean everything in your efforts.
If you intend to help your family obtain asylum, you must file a petition on their behalf within two years of being granted asylum yourself. The U.S. government may cite humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline, but it is otherwise the final cutoff date to help those you love. Attorney Alen Takhsh will work with you through each portion of the application process to help you meet this critical deadline in time.
WORKING IN THE U.S. WITH ASYLUM STATUS
Those granted asylum status are automatically permitted to work within the U.S. Even so, some people choose to have an asylum attorney in Evanston to help them obtain Employment Authorization Documents to supplement their proof of their ability to gain employment.
Unfortunately, you cannot apply to work in the U.S. at the same time you apply for asylum. If your application is still pending, attorney Alen Takhsh can help you apply for work authorization if it’s been 150 days since you applied for asylum and no decision has been made yet.
HELP FOR THOSE SEEKING ASYLUM IN THE U.S.
It’s possible for people granted asylum in the U.S. to eventually apply for a Green Card and earn permanent residence. Those on this path may also be well along the path toward achieving citizenship in the U.S.
You can apply for a Green Card one year following the date you were granted asylum. Reach out to our immigration attorneys for a consultation.
Watch the interview with Immigration Attorney Alen Takhsh
How Do I Qualify For Asylum?
What does it mean when someone seeks asylum?
It’s important to first understand what or who an asylum is. An asylum is someone who is outside his or her country of nationality. They are unable or unwilling to return or avail themselves of the protections of their country because they either suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.
How does somebody prove that they’re afraid to return to their country?
There is a threshold that an individual needs to meet. That threshold is one of reasonable probability. The courts have explained to us what that means. That means that the individual has to show that there is a one in ten chance that he or she will suffer persecution if they were to return to their country. And there’s also an element of objectivity and subjectivity involved in that. What that means is that I, Allen, am afraid to return. But I can’t simply say that because my fear also has to be reasonable. So, it also has to meet the reasonable person standard. So, in other words, subjectively, I’m afraid to return. And objectively meaning someone, a reasonable person in my shoes, would also be afraid to return, given what has happened to me or what is likely to happen to me.
You’re saying that these people need to show that there’s a one in ten chance that they will be persecuted if they return to their country. That sounds like it would be a really easy standard to meet, is it not?
It’s not. You would think that it would be somewhat easy for someone to show that there’s a 10% chance that they would be persecuted if they were to return to their country. But this administration is fighting us every step of the way, tooth and nail, making it extremely difficult for people with well-founded fear of return to seek asylum in the United States. It’s no cake walk.
When an immigrant enters the United States, what are the requirements? Is there a timeline they have to follow? Or how do they go about seeking asylum?
When you enter the United States, you have one year within which to file for asylum. If you wait longer than a year to file for asylum, there are two exceptions that may still qualify you to file for asylum successfully. Those are, one, changed country conditions, and two, changed personal circumstances. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. Number one, let’s say you are from Syria. You are a Syrian national who entered the United States in 2003 with a B two visitor visa. However, you overstayed your visa. Come 2013, Bashar al Assad oversees a civil war that is raging through his country. At that point, you file for asylum. Why? Because of changed country conditions. Now, as far as the second exception is concerned, let’s say you are a homosexual from Iran. You lived your life secretly as a gay man. You entered the United States, say, in 2005, as a student on an F One visa. And you’re studying, you’re living, you’re minding your own business. But then over time, you see that there’s freedom here, that you can be who you really are. And so at that point, let’s say three or four years later, you come out as a gay man.
Now, Iran as a country has not changed. They were against gays before, they are against gays today. But you have changed. You have come out because of the changed personal circumstances. Now you can avail yourself of the protections of the United States.
Alen, you said something earlier. You said that you can seek asylum if you’re fearful of prosecution based on your race or your religion. But you also said something about being a member of a social group. What does that mean?
It means that the applicant is a member of a cognizable social group. Now, what we mean by that is it’s a group whose members share a common immutable characteristic, something they cannot change. For example, if I was once a member of a gang, I cannot change that. If I’m a former gang member from Venezuela who attempted to escape my membership in the gang, but I’m being chased, threatened, potentially killed because of my escape, and wanting to have nothing to do with that group anymore, then I am a member of that particular social group. Or a voodoo priestess, a former voodoo priestess who converted to Christianity. She is a member of that particular social group, and that is grounds upon which she can claim asylum in the United States.
You’re bringing up some unusual situations representing voodoo priestess and gang members. Is this really the kind of stuff that you see in immigration law on a daily basis?
I do. These are real life cases I have currently. And I will say that when you turn on the television, you see that we are being quote invaded by Mexicans seeking asylum. Well, that is really not the truth. Why? Because these people are fleeing all sorts of persecution, so many different situations. Some of them are escaping domestic violence. Some of them are escaping gang violence. Some of them are escaping the fact that they were once gang members and are now in a position where they want nothing to do with it. They are reformed in a way, and they are trying to seek a better life. We see all sorts of cases from all areas of the world. The Middle East, Latin America, even Europe. And so, it is a much, much more complicated, more complex area of law that the television does not even begin to tell the whole story. And so we are not being invaded. These are broken people seeking a better life. The United States being the beacon of light that we are. We owe it to ourselves and to the world to make good on our promise to be the leaders that we profess to be.
And that involves lending a helping hand when it is legally sound to do so.
There’s so much going on at our border. You see it on CNN and on every news channel. So this is just all politics or what is really going on?
Unequivocally, 100%, all political. We are the greatest country on earth. We are the strongest country on earth. We are a country where people are thirsty to see its soil, to walk on its soil, to touch its soil. We are mighty. We have a rich history and yet we are being invaded by 3000 thirsty, hungry, broken people. Really. And so, it defies logic. It defies logic on so many levels. And so, what I ask people to do is to think and use common sense. Don’t believe everything that you see on TV. I’m not talking about Fox News, I’m not talking about MSNBC, any show, any channel. Do your own research. Talk to experts, be your own teacher. You will find the truth. That way you will see that both sides are using this issue to advance a certain agenda. And who suffers at the end? The very people who are broken and seeking help. And we can do better than that. We are better than that. We are the United States of America. We are better than that.
So we have established the elements or what you need to be granted asylum. But what’s the process like? How does it work?
So, there’s a couple of different ways. Number one, there’s the affirmative asylum process and then there’s the defensive asylum process. Affirmative means that you are not in removal defense proceedings. You are not playing defense. You are filing an application with US citizenship and Immigration Services and your case will be heard by an asylum officer. These officers don’t have to be lawyers, but they generally are. So they are well versed in immigration law and asylum law in particular. And so you file your application. And currently in about a couple of months later, you get your hearing before that officer. And if the interview goes well and you are granted which decisions right now come two or three weeks after you’ve had your interview, about a year after having been granted asylum, you can file for green card. So you can become a legal permanent resident of the United States. Now, if you are not in status at the time of your interview and your case does not meet the threshold, the required threshold for asylum in the mind of the officer, then your case is referred to immigration court. What that means is that now you have to play defense because now you are in removal proceedings, about to be deported, for lack of a better term.
So you have another chance to present your case before the immigration judge in order to prove that you are deserving of the protections of the United States.
So let’s say you go through the asylum process and you’re not granted asylum. Is that it? Or are there other types of immigration relief you can obtain?
That’s a good question. And different types of issues come up. And so, for example, let’s take an applicant who has a criminal background, nothing especially serious, but nonetheless criminal background that would preclude him or her from receiving asylum in the United States. In that case, the United States will say, well, we still believe that you told us the truth. We still believe that you will be persecuted if you were to return to your country. For that reason, we will allow you to stay in the United States but not afford you the opportunity to file for a green card. In other words, we will order you removed, but we will withhold your removal. Hence, withholding of removal. That is a type of relief that is available for people who do not qualify for asylum. That can also be the case where the person files more than a year after having entered the United States, and that person does not qualify for. One of the two exceptions we talked about before changed country conditions and changed personal circumstances. But then they are still afraid, they will still be tortured, they will still be harmed if they were to return to their country.
Again, withholding of removal in some situations it becomes so that the individual has a particularly serious crime in their background, hence not qualifying even for withholding of removal. What do you do in that case? Well, the United States is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. And in that situation, you have to prove that the country from which you are from will either torture you or turn a blind eye to the torture if you were to return to your country and you can qualify for what’s called CAT – Convention Against Torture. So, you have asylum, you have withholding of removal, and then you have Convention Against Torture. The latter two are the additional forms of relief that you might avail yourself of with the help of an asylum attorney if asylum doesn’t work out.