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Seeking Asylum in the United States

The Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporates elements of international law, provides protection for persons seeking protection from persecution. Generally, an applicant for asylum relief must meet the definition of a refugee. A refugee is defined as “any person outside his or her country of nationality, or in the case of a person having no nationality, his or her last habitual residence, who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” INA §101(a)(42)(A), 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(42)(A). There is no right to asylum in the U.S. Although an applicant may satisfy the statutory requirements for asylum, the government may deny protection as a matter of discretion.

There are two ways to apply for asylum. If the asylum applicant is inside the United States and not subject to removal proceedings, the applicant may file an asylum application with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If the applicant is in removal proceedings, or the USCIS declines to adjudicate the application, the applicant may apply for asylum before an immigration judge. The applicant must apply for asylum within one year of entry, unless the applicant can show changed circumstances or exceptional circumstances.

An applicant for asylum is ineligible for asylum protection if:

  • the applicant participated in persecution of others because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion;
  • the applicant has been convicted of a particularly serious crime in the United States constituting a danger to the community;
  • the applicant has committed a serious non-political crime outside the United States;
  • the applicant is deemed a danger to the security of the United States;
  • the applicant is not admissible based on terrorism-related grounds;
  • the applicant has firmly resettled in another country prior to arrival; or
  • the applicant has been convicted of an aggravated felony as defined by immigration law.

Applicants granted asylum may request derivative asylum status for their spouses and children. A person may apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States after one (1) year of being granted asylum status.

The asylum and refugee laws of the United States are complex and subject to change. It is advisable that the applicant contact our immigration lawyers and seek counsel to determine their facts, relevant issues and potential pitfalls.

Immigration law is often compared to tax law in its complexity. Do not struggle alone with complicated state and federal immigration laws and the varying immigration laws of other countries. We have helped thousands of individuals, families and businesses resolve their immigration law challenges. Contact us for a low-charge initial consultation to discuss how we can help you or your family members.

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“Mr. Chavez I cannot THANK YOU enough for helping us in reuniting our family. The WAIVER you completed for my husband was EXCELLENT. We will forever be grateful to you and your professional staff. I knew from my first consultation that you were sincere about helping your clients. You are an example of what a great attorney is. I HIGHLY recommend your law firm to everyone.“

– Elizabeth C., Crowley, TX (I-601 Waiver of inadmissibility in Cd. Juarez, Mexico)

“I am the General Counsel for a global internet security company. I have been working with Martin and his team for over three years on immigration matters including permanent residence, intracompany-transferee, investor’s, and H-1B matters. My experience has been outstanding. Martin or anyone in the firm always respond promptly and professionally. I usually work on very tight deadline and Martin and his team have always helped us achieve our goals. In my experience in comparison to working with other immigration lawyers, Chavez & Valko makes the complicated and burdensome process feel like a breeze. I would recommend Chavez & Valko to anyone who wants precision, promptness and professionalism.”

– Alexandra Albro, General Counsel, ESET ESET

“My husband WAS detained in a detention center, facing the possibility of deportation. As of today, my husband is home . . with the judge granting his cancellation of removal, and he was able to keep his permanent resident status here in the United States. . . The law firm of Chavez & Valko was wonderful to work with, guiding us through this long and difficult process with such conviction and compassion, that they gave my family and I that peace of mind of hope and encouragement that everything will be fine. . . I highly recommend the law firm of Chavez & Valko to anyone with immigration matter(s). . . Please continue doing what you do because you guys really do change lives. ”

– Removal client, Dallas, TX (Cancellation of Removal of Lawful Permanent Resident)

“My family and I would like to thank the attorneys from the immigration law firm of Chavez & Valko LLP for the great work fulfilled in my immigration case which had a happy ending. . . the immigration law argued that a criminal case like the one I had was eligible for deportation and my options were minimal. . . With their experience and great knowledge in immigration law, their perseverance and professionalism, they were able to win my case in my favor in Dallas immigration court (EOIR). I would like to give special thanks to the law firm of Chavez & Valko, who was with us at all times giving us support, security and great optimism.”

– Cecilio & Family, Dallas, TX (Defense against deportation in immigration court with 212(h) Waiver and Cuban Adjustment)

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