Asylum and Withholding of Removal

Federal immigration law permits immigrants to seek protection in the United States when they have a specific fear of persecution in their home countries.

Affirmative Asylum Applications (Not in Court)

We regularly represent immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.  This application must be filed within one year of the immigrant’s arrival in the United States, although there are a few exceptions to this time limit. Asylum applicants have to prove they are likely to be harmed and why. They also have to show they are not ineligible for asylum. After being interviewed and vetted by an asylum officer, the application is either approved or is referred to Immigration Court.

Asylum Without an Attorney

Preparing the Asylum Application

Unfortunately, the asylum form, I-589, is fairly complicated and must be filled out correctly.  The form asks a series of extensive questions about the applicant’s history and why they’re seeking asylum.  We assist affirmative asylum applicants with filling out and preparing the I-589 form and checking it for accuracy.  Because the form doesn’t contain enough room to fit much text, we also often prepare a sworn declaration to accompany this form, which outlines in more detail what has happened in the past and what is likely to happen in the future.



Translating and Assembling Exhibits

The application usually must be accompanied by documents to help prove the claim. Although it is understood that obtaining proof is sometimes difficult, when our clients do have documents to support their claims, like police reports or medical documents, we submit them with the asylum application.  If these documents are in another language, they must be translated into English.  Once we have all of these documents with English translations, we review them and assemble the final package to go to the asylum office.


Receipts and Work Authorization
Once the asylum application has been filed with the USCIS, the applicant and the attorney receive a written receipt notice, and the applicant receives a biometrics notice requiring their fingerprinting.  We then have to wait 150 days to apply for work authorization.  This is often the most difficult time, because without work authorization the applicant may have to rely on family and friends for support. At the end of the 150 days we can apply for work authorization, which then takes about 30 to 60 days to receive.


The Asylum Interview
All asylum cases require an in-person interview with a USCIS asylum officer. We have represented asylum applicants at their interview at asylum offices around the country.  This is the most important step. The applicant must appear with a translator if they do not speak English, and they must answer the questions of the asylum officer about their asylum claim. The attorney is only present to observe and to make a closing statement – not to assist with answering questions.  The asylum officer will then make a recommendation to either grant asylum or refer the case to Immigration Court.  Once it has been reviewed by a supervisor a decision will be mailed.



Defensive Asylum (In Court)

An immigrant in court, being charged with grounds of removability, has the right to ask for asylum in lieu of being deported. The same rules apply as in affirmative cases. Some immigrants in expedited proceedings are also eligible to apply for asylum if they are found by an asylum officer to have a “credible fear.”

asylum and refugee status - Hoppock Law Firm, LLC - a Kansas City Immigration Law Firm


Filing the Application

When and whether the asylum application is filed can make a huge difference. Not only do you need to consider the one-year time limit, but the asylum clock (which keeps track of eligibility for work authorization) can be turned off unnecessarily if the application is filed at the wrong time or wrong place. Sometimes the court turns off the clock for no reason and we have to work with the court to fix it.

The Immigration Court Hearing

Asylum claims in immigration court do not have an “interview” like affirmative claims. Instead the applicant is scheduled for an “Individual Hearing” where she will testify under oath and be cross examined by a government prosecutor. This can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. We have represented hundreds of clients in immigration court seeking asylum and can help you prepare so that you understand what to expect and what is necessary to prove your case.


Appealing a Denied Asylum Application

We regularly help asylum applicants with appeals to the BIA and to the Circuit Courts of Appeals. It’s such a central focus that we have a separate page devoted entirely to appeals. Take Me There

We Would Be Glad to Talk With You About Your Appeal. Please Get in Touch.