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Seeking asylum is not a hasty process

The fear of persecution because of your race, religion, politics or other factors is a valid reason for wanting to flee your country and seek a safer home elsewhere. For many, that haven is the United States. If you have already made the decision to leave your country and hope to gain legal residency in the U.S., it is important that you understand the process for seeking asylum.

Qualifying for asylum is not an easy thing to do. The U.S. government has rigid rules in place to protect the country and its citizens. While there are numerous compassionate programs to welcome citizens of other countries who are in danger, recent tightening of immigration laws makes qualifying for these programs even more challenging. Nevertheless, with skilled legal assistance, you may be able to overcome the barriers and obtain your goal.

Who is an asylee?

If you are not yet on U.S. soil, you may apply for refugee status before you leave your country. However, if you are already lawfully present in Georgia or another U.S. state, the government no longer considers you a refugee, but an asylee, and you may begin the process of seeking asylum status. This process can be long and arduous.

Statistically, U.S. immigration denies 99 percent of petitions for asylum from Mexico. If you are coming from Mexico, it would behoove you to enlist skilled assistance to avoid mistakes and omissions that could jeopardize your application.

The beginning of a long process

The application process includes 12 pages of questions and even more pages of instructions. You will need to provide specific details of the persecution you fear or have experienced. Once you have submitted your application, the following may happen:

  • Waiting for immigration officials to contact you
  • Making and keeping an appointment with a Georgia biometrics center to register your fingerprints, photograph and signature
  • Submitting to a criminal background check
  • Receiving an appointment for an interview with an asylum officer
  • Collecting and bringing all your vital documents and obtaining legal counsel if you want an attorney with you for your interview
  • Waiting for the immigration agent's decision

The waiting time between each of these events may be weeks or months. In fact, the average length of an asylum petition from start to finish is about 180 days, provided there are no complications or delays in your paperwork. Going through this process with the assistance of an experienced legal advocate may provide a more positive outcome for you.

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