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What are the different ways to obtain asylum?

South Carolina residents who are not United States citizens may be curious about how to obtain asylum. Asylum is the process where the United States allows foreign residents to remain in the country to protect them from persecution in their home countries. A person must be physically present in the U.S. to request asylum, and can apply regardless of how the individual arrived or legal immigration status.

One way to seek asylum is to file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. If the form is denied and the individual does not have a legal immigration status, USCIS will notify the person to appear before an immigration judge for a hearing where asylum is again requested in person. At the hearing, the judge reviews all of the evidence, rather than basing his decision on the original application.

The other way to request asylum is as a defense to a deportation hearing. This scenario applies to any person who has already been summoned to a deportation hearing in immigration court. One way that this happens is if the application for asylum is denied. A person can also raise asylum as a defense if caught in the United States without a lawful immigration status, or if Customs and Border Patrol finds the person attempting to cross the border without documentation.

Applying for asylum can be confusing, especially for a person in an unfamiliar country or using an unfamiliar language. An immigration lawyer may be able to help explain things in a manner that reduces confusion, and can help file a request for asylum or raise asylum as a defense in a deportation proceeding.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services , "Obtaining Asylum in the United States", December 03, 2014

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