Immigration Lawyer in Louisiana: Understanding Affirmative Asylum

Hundreds of thousands of people seek asylum each year. Only a small percentage, however, will qualify as asylum seekers, as the law narrowly defines the term and requires stringent proof before an application is approved.

If it is your life or a loved one's life at risk by returning to your home country, you want to make sure you are represented by competent immigration attorneys. At Mayeaux & Associates L.C., our asylum attorneys effectively handle affirmative asylum applications and will do the same for you. Contact us today at 225-754-4477 to schedule a free consultation.

Understanding the Asylum Process in the United States

The asylum process in the United States offers protection to individuals who have fled their home country and are unable to return due to a fear of prosecution. 

To qualify for asylum, a person must be a refugee and in the United States when they apply for protection. Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a refugee as someone who is unable to return to their home country due to persecution or a fear of persecution based on their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Persecution is usually physical, but it can also be emotional or psychological.

There are two pathways to applying for asylum in the United States. 

  1. If you're in the United States and not subject to removal (deportation) proceedings, you can proactively apply for affirmative asylum. 
  2. If removal proceedings have already been started against you in immigration court, you can apply for defensive asylum. Unless you entered the United States as an Unaccompanied Alien Child, then jurisdiction of your asylum application remains with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

You can file for affirmative asylum regardless of your immigration status in the United States—whether you hold another temporary visa like a student visa, your immigration status has lapsed or expired, or you entered the United States illegally.

The asylum process is a pathway to permanent residency. You can apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum. 

How to File for Affirmative Asylum

To apply for affirmative asylum, you must be present in the United States or at a port of entry. You can remain in the United States while your application is being processed. 

Form I-589

To start an affirmative asylum application, you must complete and file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

This must be done within one year of your arrival in the United States. There are some limited exceptions to this timeframe, such as where your circumstances have changed affecting your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances caused the delay. 

USCIS should send you confirmation of receipt of your application within 30 days. 

Biometrics Appointment

In addition to confirmation that your application has been received, USCIS will also send you a biometrics appointment notice. You must attend an application support center on your allocated day for your fingerprints to be taken. 

Asylum Appointment

After providing your fingerprints, you will receive a notice of your appointment with USCIS at one of its offices. You can bring an attorney or accredited representative, an interpreter, and your spouse and children to the appointment (if they are applying for derivative asylum). 

USCIS Decision

A USCIS officer then decides whether you have a legitimate asylum claim. Under the INA, an affirmative asylum application should be decided within 180 days of an application being filed, unless exceptional circumstances exist. However, it is not uncommon for decisions to take longer. 

Immigration Court

If it is unclear whether your asylum claim is legitimate, USCIS will refer your matter to an immigration court to decide. In this situation, you become a defensive asylum seeker. 

Contact an Asylum Immigration Lawyer in Louisiana Today 

Asylum is the protection you deserve if you have faced persecution or have a well-founded fear of facing persecution upon returning to your home country. Our immigration attorneys based in Louisiana can help you make sure you put forth your best effort to get this protection. Contact Mayeaux & Associates L.C. today by filling out the online form or calling us at 225-754-4477 to schedule a free consultation.

Mayeaux & Associates L.C. Is Here for You

At Mayeaux & Associates L.C., we focus on the legal challenges every immigrant faces as they build new lives in the United States. We are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

Contact Us Today

From our offices in Baton Rouge and Kenner, the attorneys at Mayeaux & Associates L.C. are committed to answering your questions about your most important legal matters. We offer Free Consultations (in person or by telephone/video) and will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.