Asylum Explained

Muslim Matters

Asylum Explained

By Adil James, TMO

November 30–Bloomfield Hills–Attorney Sayyed Mustafa spoke Friday night about the process of applying for asylum in the United States.

Mr. Mustafa has extensive experience which showed in his comfort with the subject matter of the night.

About 40 people were present, as Mr. Mustafa explained, in broad strokes, that an asylum applicant must (1) have come to the US legally, (2) must apply within one year for asylum (after that first year he can apply but must show that circumstances forced him to wait beyond the ordinary one year period), (3) he/she must file the application for asylum, I589.

Those over 21 have to file their own applications. People younger than 21 can be included in their parents’ asylum applications.

The substance of the application must be that the applicant cannot go to his/her home country because of either (a) past persecution that they suffered or (b)  a “well-founded fear” of future persecution.

Persecution must be at the level of jail, mental torture, detention.  Simple harassment is not enough to qualify for asylum.

The basis for a “well-founded fear” of persecution must be what a reasonable person would expect on the basis of the applicant’s experiences.

This persecution must be based on five categories including race, religion, and political activities.

45 days after filing the application there should be an answer, which will give an interview date. The applicant must bring proof of the persecution, preferably direct evidence but if this is impossible then letters documenting persecution by people known to the applicant. At this initial interview the vast majority of applications are rejected.

The next level is to appear before an immigration judge. Applicant credibility is vitally important. The entire application process can take several years.


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