As Miami immigration lawyer who has worked on quite a number of asylum cases, I have, over the years, encountered quite a few misconceptions about the filing of asylum claims.  Below are some frequently held myths about asylum claims in the United States.

1. Aren’t asylum and refugee status one and the same?

No. In the eyes of the United States government, asylum seekers and refugees are separate and distinct.

An asylum seeker must demonstrate that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of five grounds:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group (note: many LGBT individuals who apply for asylum qualify under this category)
  • Political opinion

Refugee seekers, on the other hand, must meet the standard above, as well as the following:

  • Refugee status must be secured while you are still outside the United States. You cannot seek refugee status once you are in the United States.
  • Your case is of special humanitarian concern to the United States.
  • You can be labeled admissible for legal entry into the United States.

If you have any questions in regard to what category you fall into, do not guess. I would highly recommend that you consult with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options.

2. Getting approved for asylum is easy.

This could not be further from the truth. The burden that the asylum seeker has to meet is stringent (see #1 above). In addition, there are certain categories of people who will not be approved for asylum, even if they do meet the definition of persecution as outlined in #1.

You can barred from receiving asylum from the United States government if it is found that you:

  • Ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion
  • Were convicted of a “particularly serious crime” such that you are a danger to the United States
  • Committed a “serious nonpolitical crime” outside the United States
  • Pose a danger to the security of the United States
  • Have been firmly resettled in another country before arriving in the United States

You will also be barred from receiving asylum if you are inadmissible because you:

  • Have engaged in terrorist activity·
  • Are engaged in or are likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity·
  • Have incited terrorist activity
  • Are a representative of a foreign terrorist organization
  • Are a member of a terrorist organization
  • Have persuaded others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization
  • Have received military-type training from or on behalf of any organization that, at the time the training was received, was a terrorist organization
  • Are the spouse or child of an individual who is inadmissible for any of the above within the last 5 years

3. Getting approved for an asylum claim is quick.

Not exactly. The United States government is inundated with asylum applications from all over the world. Therefore, you should have reasonable expectations for the time it takes to get an asylum claim approved. Before filing your application, it would be wise to consult with your Miami immigration attorney about the expected timeline.

In addition, be aware that asylum applications require a significant amount of documentation in order for the asylum seeker to demonstrate that he/she qualifies for relief. As such, asylum application packages are oftentimes lengthy, and consist of:

  • Immigration Form I-589
  • A declaration (detailed personal statement by the applicant)
  • Corroborating documents (medical reports, police reports, letters from witnesses, etc.) to back up the applicant’s story
  • Country conditions documentation (human rights reports, newspaper articles, reports from expert witnesses)

If you would like more information on applying for asylum, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at .

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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