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Seeking Religious Asylum in the U.S.

Freedom to practice religion or not to practice religion, is the fundamental right that the United States was founded on. Thus, it is no surprise that U.S. asylum law accomodates individuals that have been persecuted on this ground, or that fear future persecution on the basis of freedom.

In fact the U.S. government takes this freedom so seriously that it created an independent, bipartisan group called the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). This commission is tasked with monitoring and defending religious freedom around the world. In turn, the U.S. President, Congress and Secretary of State create new policies and amend existing policies based on its findings and advice. 

Therefore, if you can prove that you have been persecuted, or have a reasonable fear of being persecuted based on your religion/religious practices, or decision not to engage in religious practices in your country, you may be able to seek asylum in the United States.

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To understand the legal definition of religious persecution in the context of U.S. asylum and immigration law, you must also understand how the U.S. government defines religion. For these purposes, the term is applied to both globally recognized and lesser known types of faith and worship.

Because this definition is so broad, there are few restrictions on who may apply for asylum in the Unites States based on religious persecution or a viable fear of such persecution in their country. But that doesn’t mean the government will actually grant asylum to everyone who applies for this reason. Instead, each application is assessed individually and a determination is made based on its merits.

To receive asylum based on this ground, you must successfully demonstrate that the government, authorities, or other relevant people or organizations in your country persecuted you because of your religious beliefs and practices or lack thereof. If you haven’t been persecuted for these reasons, you must prove that you have a legitimate fear of being persecuted if you are forced to return to your country.

Persecution in this context is usually defined as any type of physical brutality, psychological torture or activity that limits your ability to provide for your family. However, it can also be defined as the creation and enforcement of any law that specifically targets the religious group you are affiliated with and such laws have a dramatic effect on your way of life. Examples of such laws include those that prohibit membership in the group you are affiliated with; disallowing or restricting public worship;  and/or mandating conversion to another religion.

With so much at stake, it’s important to consult a knowledgable asylum attorney before you decide to seek asylum based on past religious persecution or legitimate fear of future religious persecution in your country. To learn more about whether this is a viable option for you, contact us today.

☎ Call today for a free asylum consultation

If you’re seeking asylum in the United States based on religious persecution or any other grounds, don’t leave anything to chance. Call our office to schedule a meeting with one of our highly-experienced asylum attorneys who can assess your circumstances and device the best legal strategy to meet your needs. You can reach us at  (888) ZONTLAW / (888) 966-8529.

Can I ask for political asylum from outside the US?
NO. To apply for political asylum, you must be in the United States (embassies or diplomatic missions outside the US will not help you in this matter). Being outside the US, you can only apply for refugee status and this procedure is also a complicated procedure.

Can I apply for asylum when crossing the border?
This is possible, and such cases often occur at the border crossing with Mexico. The application directly on the border is an extreme measure. A very important point is that when you cross the border without the necessary permission (US visa) and asylum application, you are most likely to be detained and placed in an immigration prison where you will conduct initial inquiries and check all the facts you previously stated . The decisions of the border service can be delayed for weeks or even months.

Can I apply for political asylum if I am illegally in the US?
You have the right to defend and examine your application, even if you are in an illegal status. It is very important that this happens in the first year of your stay in the country. Otherwise, you have to argue, there are compelling reasons why you did not do this before.

How long does it take to get an interview for asylum?
Beginning on January 29, 2018, the Immigration Department for Asylum (USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Service Group) will give priority to the newest applications when assigning interviews.
Such a change in the schedule of interviews will make it possible to weed out those applicants who use groundless statements and try to use this process solely to obtain a work permit and will enable the USCIS to immediately identify such persons and begin the process of their deportation. In reality, the new Priority will allow the USCIS to make decisions on qualified asylum seekers more quickly and efficiently.

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