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What happens after I apply for asylum?

After you spent time gathering your information and filing your application for asylum, the next step requires you to wait patiently for a decision. Like other applicants here in Georgia, this seems like the hardest part of the process. While you wait, understanding the different decisions might help.

You receive one of five different responses to your application

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you receive one of the following decisions after you apply for asylum:

1. Grant of asylum: Fortunately, once you receive asylum in the United States, it does not expire except under certain conditions:

a. You commit certain crimes.

b. You participate in other activities that threaten your status.

c. Authorities discover that you lied on your application.

d. Another country provides you with a safe haven.

e. A change in circumstances in your home country makes it safe for you to return.

Once USCIS grants you asylum, you might receive additional benefits and the right to work here in the United States through different processes.

2. Recommended approval: USCIS issues this decision while they complete your security check but you are eligible for asylum. You may apply for the right to work in the United States under this recommendation. Once the security checks come through as clear, your status changes to "granted asylum."

3. Referral to immigration court: If your request requires more information and review, USCIS refers your claim to an immigration court. You will receive a notice informing you of your scheduled court appointment. This decision does not deny you asylum, and you do not have to reapply at this point. The court makes the decision about your asylum without regard for any decision made by USCIS.

4. Notice of intent to deny: This decision recognizes that you entered the country legally, but your eligibility for asylum remains uncertain. Most often USCIS needs additional information to make its decision. If you receive this notice, you must respond in writing within 16 days with new evidence for why your request should be granted. After review, the agency decides whether to grant you asylum or deny your application.

5. Final denial: If you fail to respond in time to the notice of intent to deny, or the additional information you provided does not convince the agency that you are eligible for asylum, USCIS will deny your application. No appeal to this decision is possible. If your circumstances change, you retain the right to reapply for asylum.

Any decision made by USCIS regarding your application includes your children and spouse if they live here with you, you proved your relationship to them in your application and you included them in your application.

How to improve your chances of obtaining asylum

An attorney who regularly deals with immigration understands the documentation USCIS needs to grant you asylum. Involving an attorney as soon as possible could save you valuable time. If you applied without one and received a referral to immigration court or a notice of intent to deny, immigration advocates recommend that you do not proceed alone.

An attorney explains the process to you, helps you gather the appropriate evidence and assists you in the application process. If you must appear in court, he or she helps you prepare for your appearance. A notice of intent to deny often means that you failed to provide the appropriate information. An attorney advises you what to submit and how to respond.

You made a brave decision to flee your home country in search of a better and safer life. You may risk your future and further persecution by going through this process alone.

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