Navigating the Asylum Process in Charleston, SC: What You Need to Know

Navigating the Asylum Process in Charleston, SC: What You Need to Know

What Is Asylum?

Asylum is a form of protection granted to foreign nationals or refugees in the United States who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. It is a legal status that allows an individual to remain in the country, eligible to apply for a Social Security card, work, and even apply for a green card a year after being granted asylum.

Are You Ready to Apply for Asylum in Charleston, SC

The process of seeking asylum can be daunting, given the intricate nature of the U.S. immigration policy. However, with careful planning and strategic execution, it's entirely possible. As a first step, it's highly recommended to have the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney.

Although it's not legally required for you to have an attorney, we at Maghzi Law Firm LLC strongly encourage you to call our team if you are applying for asylum or are considering sponsoring an asylum seeker.

Keep reading for answers to some frequently asked questions about applying for asylum in Charleston.

Who Is Eligible to Seek Asylum?

To be eligible to seek asylum in the U.S., you must already be physically within the U.S., not a U.S. citizen, and be able to prove that you either were persecuted or have a fear of persecution in your country of origin based on your race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, or membership in a particular social group.

To apply for asylum, eligible individuals must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one (1) year of their arrival in the U.S.

Individuals applying for asylum may also include their spouses and unmarried, dependent children under the age of 21 on their asylum applications, provided those parties listed are currently in the United States.

Can I Apply for Asylum Online?

In many cases, yes, an eligible asylum-seeker may submit their Form I-589 online. However, this option is not available to all. Presently, only a specific set of affirmative asylum applicants can make use of the online filing system for Form I-589.

In particular, applicants dealing with a case in immigration court or before the Board of Immigration Appeals; are an unaccompanied child per 6 U.S.C. § 279(g) and in removal proceedings; fall under the categories of applicants directed to file by mail with the Asylum Vetting Center; or already have a Form I-589 under review with USCIS.

Asylum-seekers also have the option to submit their Form I-589 via the mail.

Please note: though there is a USCIS Field Office in Charleston, there is no dedicated Asylum Office. USCIS field offices do not generally offer services to asylum applicants. The Asylum Office, servicing Charleston, SC, is located in Arlington, VA.

Affirmative Asylum vs. Defensive Asylum Processes

When it comes to applying for asylum, there are two primary methods: affirmative and defensive. The affirmative asylum process involves individuals who apply for asylum and are not currently in immigration court removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

The process for applying for affirmative asylum typically involves the following steps:

  • Arrival in the U.S.
  • Submitting an application for asylum with Form I-589
  • Fingerprinting and background checks
  • Asylum interview (typically held at a USCIS Asylum Office)
  • Asylum officer determination
  • Determination reviewed by supervisory asylum officers
  • You receive their decision

The affirmative asylum process takes approximately 180 days unless there are extenuating circumstances.

On the other hand, defensive asylum applications are filed as a defense against removal from the U.S. These applications are typically made by individuals who are in removal proceedings in the immigration court. An individual may also have to go through the defensive asylum process if they have been referred there after being deemed ineligible for the affirmative process by USCIS.

While affirmative asylum cases are processed with the USCIS, defensive asylum processes are processed with the EOIR.

In the defensive asylum process, cases are presented in a courtroom-like setting before an immigration judge. The individual seeking asylum (or their attorney, if they have one) and a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney represent the two parties involved in the proceeding. This judge is responsible for evaluating the asylum seeker's eligibility. If the individual is deemed eligible, they are granted asylum. If not, the judge will then assess whether the individual qualifies for any other forms of relief from removal.

In cases where no other forms of relief are applicable, the judge will issue an order for the individual to be removed from the U.S. Keep in mind that the decision of the immigration judge can be appealed by either party.

Get Help Seeking Asylum from a Local Charleston Immigration Firm

Our team of experienced immigration attorneys is prepared to offer you invaluable advice and assistance, helping to streamline the complicated process of seeking asylum. With our support, you can feel more confident and make informed decisions as you work towards resettlement in the U.S.

If you are an asylum-seeker living in Charleston, contact us online today. We are ready to help.

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