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Law Offices of Haregu Gaime

Affirmative and Defensive Asylum

We handle both Affirmative and Defensive Asylum, withholding claims

Each year many individuals apply for asylum in the United States. In order to receive asylum, a person needs to meet the definition of being a “refugee.”

The legal definition of a refugee is as follows:

An individual leaves their home country because the either fear persecution or have experienced persecution, because of an outbreak of war, their social status (including sexual orientation), religion, race, nationality, or political views. The refugee status, from these causes, means the person is in a “protected group,” for an asylum application.

Each year, the United States permits a specific number of refugees to apply for asylum. Refugees are about 10% of all the immigrants to the United States. Approximately 50,000 people annually, apply for asylum as a refugee. A refugee is a "seeker of asylum," until their case has been reviewed and they are accepted by the United States as being qualified for the granting of asylum.

A person does not have to be physically present to apply initially for asylum in the United States, but must live in the United States for at least one year as a refugee to qualify for the granting of asylum.

Asylum is not automatic for every application. This is why having competent legal counsel that is very familiar with the immigration laws of the United States, is critical.

The asylum seeker must prove the following:

  1. Fear of persecution based on reasonable evidence or actual persecution based on evidence.
  2. The persecution occurred or will occur because of the individual’s belonging to one of the protected groups listed above.
  3. Evidence must show that the foreign government is involved in the persecution or they cannot control actions of persecution by others in the foreign country.

When a person is eligible for asylum, they are allowed to stay in the United States. The application for asylum is made using Form I-589, “Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal,” within twelve months after arrival to America. This application does not have any fees.

A spouse and children (under twenty-one years of age and unmarried), may be part of the asylum application, if they are also present physically in the United States.

Form I-730 - “Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition” is used to apply for inclusion of a spouse or children that are not yet physically in the United States. This application for a spouse and children must be made within two years of the granting of asylum for the individual, unless there are special humanitarian circumstances that warrant a time extension for the application. This application does not have any fees.

Right to Work in America

Employment authorization to work in the USA is not granted at the same time an application is made for asylum. If no decision has been made on the asylum application, there is a 150-day waiting period after filing an application for asylum, before a work authorization request may be filed. This waiting period extends for any amount of time delays, caused by the applicant, in the processing of the asylum application. It takes an additional 30 days to grant the work authorization, so the total minimum waiting period is 180-days.

Form I-765 - “Application for Employment Authorization,” is used to apply for work authorization. There is no fee for either asylum seekers who have applied or those who are granted asylum. Once asylum is granted, the person is immediately authorized to work in the United States.

Getting a Green Card (Permanent Residence)

A person who is granted asylum, may apply for a Green Card one year after asylum is approved. Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status” is used for this purpose. Each person, a spouse, and each child must use a separate form for this application.


Most people find the asylum process extremely challenging and therefore benefit greatly by having the assistance of a highly qualified immigration attorney to help them with the application process.


Asylum in the United States Link

Refugee Link

Asylum Link

Asylum Questions and Answers Link

Green Card for an Asylee Link

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