Immigration Asylum Laws: What is Gender Identity Persecution?
Gender identity persecution occurs when someone is harmed because they are transsexual, transgender or do not conform to traditional gender stereotypes. Persecution can include threats, attacks, beatings, sexual assault and abuse, mental abuse, and severe economic harm.
What Is Asylum?
Asylum is a U.S. legal mechanism for protecting immigrants who have been persecuted or believe they will be harmed if they go back to their home countries. People who are granted asylum are allowed to stay in the U.S., get a work permit and some public benefits, and eventually apply for a green card and U.S. citizenship.
Who Decides if I Get Asylum?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the governmental entity that decides if you get asylum. The USCIS is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
What Do I Need to Prove to Get Asylum?
To qualify for asylum you’ll need to prove two main things:
You have either suffered past persecution, or have a well-founded fear of future persecution if you return to your home country. “Persecution” is harm that is inflicted either directly by the government, or by other individuals who the government cannot or will not control. “Well-founded fear” means that there is a real danger if you return to your home country. Don’t let this language worry or confuse you!
This persecution is or was based, at least in part, on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a “particular social group,” or your political opinion. Transgender applicants have been granted asylum based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In these cases, the courts have considered transgender people to be a “particular social group.” If you are afraid you will be harmed in your home country because you identify as transgender or transsexual or for another reason listed above, you may have a claim for asylum.
Should I Apply for Asylum?
Deciding whether to apply for asylum can be a tough decision. If you win asylum, you will be able to stay in the U.S. and to apply for several public benefits. But if you do not win asylum, you may be ordered to leave the U.S. and return to your country. Applying for asylum if you have a weak case can be very risky. For some people, it is better if they do not apply. You should make this decision only after you have talked to an experienced immigration attorney who has worked with transgender clients.
How Do I Get Legal Help?
Because asylum law is confusing and because everything you tell or give to USCIS may become a part of your asylum record, we strongly encourage you to talk to a lawyer before sending anything to USCIS.
Preparing to Apply
How Do I Apply for Asylum?
You’ll need to fill out forms from USCIS and also get documents to support your case, including your own declaration of your experiences and documents describing the conditions of your home country. It is a good idea to talk to an experienced immigration attorney before you apply for asylum. Once you are done with the application, it must be mailed to a USCIS office. In order to apply for asylum, you must be physically present in the U.S or seeking entry at a port of entry to the country. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the U.S. or your current immigration status. Generally, you must apply for asylum within one year of the date of your last arrival into the U.S.
What Happens Once I Have Applied?
You will be given an interview with an asylum officer, generally within six weeks. This officer will look at your application, listen to your story, and ask you questions. Nothing you say in this interview will be provided to the government or country from which you claim a fear of persecution. In most cases, you can receive a decision two weeks after your asylum interview. The decision will either recommend asylum or it will not. If you are recommended for asylum, this means that you have won, and that once the background checks on your fingerprints have cleared, you will be mailed a final approval notice. If you are denied asylum, and you are validly in the U.S. (on a tourist or student visa, for example), you will receive a notice of intent to deny your case. You will then have the opportunity to submit further evidence about why you should receive asylum, and will be allowed to remain in the U.S. for the duration of your visa. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to appeal if your application is still denied after submitting further evidence. If you are denied asylum after your interview and you are not qualified to remain in the U.S., you will be placed in removal proceedings and your case will be referred to an immigration judge. If this happens to you, make sure to show up in court, and bring a lawyer, if possible. You will have a chance to tell your story to the judge, who can grant you asylum. If the judge does not grant you asylum, you can still appeal the judge’s decision, and stay in the U.S. while you wait for a final decision.
The Application Process:
Will I Be Able to Get a Work Permit?
It is difficult to get a temporary work permit during your application period. Most applicants do not get any kind of work permit until after they have won asylum. You may only apply for a temporary work authorization if 150 days have passed since you filed your completed asylum application (not including delays that you have caused), and if the government has not made a decision on your application. If you are granted asylum, you may work immediately.
What Can I Do to Help My Lawyer?
The most important thing you can do is be as honest as possible. Whether you meet with someone from the Asylum Program, another asylum assistance group, or hire a private immigration lawyer on your own, anything you say to that lawyer is confidential. That means that this lawyer is not allowed to tell this information to the U.S. government or to anyone else without your permission. While you might be worried that some part of your case will hurt your chances for asylum, it is best to share your concerns with your lawyer. They may be able to calm your fears or help you think through the best way to present the information. You should also help your lawyer get documents for your case. Some helpful documents include pictures of yourself from when you lived in your home country, a birth certificate or identity card, and letters from relatives or friends that will help prove your case. If you don’t have any of these documents, don’t worry. But if you can get them, they may help.
Contributed by Svetlana Prizant, an Award Winning Queens Immigration Lawyer: Call Or Visit Prizant Law Today At: Prizant Law 118-21 Queens Blvd Suite 507 Forest Hills, NY 11375 718-407-0871 https://www.prizant-law.com/