This is the second posting about the “affirmative asylum” process.
As with all applications for asylum, the task for the applicant is to show that he or she has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in his or her country of origin by the government or by individuals or groups that the government cannot or will not control. In addition, the applicant must show that the persecution (or fear of persecution) is because of at least one of the following five reasons: the applicant’s (1) race, (2) religion, (3) nationality, (4) political opinion, or (5) membership in a particular social group.
Another important requirement is that the applicant submit the asylum application within one year of the applicant’s most recent entry to the United States. If the applicant submits the application more than one year after the most recent entry, then the applicant will need to show that there were either exceptional circumstances or changed circumstances that led to the delay in filing.
Back to the five reasons for persecution, let’s discuss “membership in a particular social group” (referred to as “PSG”). This doesn’t mean that an applicant needed to be a member of an official club, or society, or organization. It means that the applicant may state that he or she is persecuted because of some particular characteristics that he or she has. For example, a woman who is fleeing domestic violence in her home, and who is from a country in which women have no real protections from the government against domestic violence, might be in a PSG of “women from Country X who are viewed as property due to their role in a domestic relationship.”
After the very long wait for an interview at at USCIS Asylum Office, and then at some point after the interview, USCIS will issue a decision on the application. If USCIS approves the application, then the applicant is an “asylee,” and one year after the USCIS decision, the asylee may apply for permanent resident (green card) status.
If, at the time of the USCIS decision, the applicant is in lawful immigration status, then if USCIS does not approve the application, they will simply issue a denial. The applicant will continue in their lawful immigration status. On the other hand, if the applicant is not in lawful immigration status, then the applicant will need to appear later in Immigration Court, where an Immigration Judge will take a fresh look at the asylum application.
Asylum law is extremely complex. If you are considering applying for asylum, you should work with an experienced immigration attorney.