Tampa Asylum Lawyers

Seeking Asylum / Refugee Status in Florida

U.S. immigration law allows certain eligible foreign nationals who face persecution in their home countries to gain protection and a legal immigration status by applying for asylum or refugee status.

If you can demonstrate that you will be persecuted in the future based on any of the approved reasons (including religion, political opinion, race, nationality, or membership in a social group), you may have an opportunity to obtain protection from the USCIS. Our Tampa asylum attorneys at Brown Immigration Law can discuss your situation, available options, and what we can do to help during a consultation.

Call (813) 791-7535 or contact us online to learn more about applying for refugee/asylum status in Tampa. Brown Immigration Law serves clients across Hillsborough County, the state of Florida, and beyond from multiple office locations.

What is Asylum and Refugee Status?

Asylum and refugee status are forms of protection granted to individuals who have fled their home countries due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

These protections are designed to safeguard individuals from being returned to countries where their lives or freedoms are at risk.

Is Asylum and Refugee Status Different?

While both asylum and refugee status offer protection to individuals fleeing persecution, they differ mainly in terms of where the individual is located when applying for protection:

  • Asylum: This status is sought by individuals who are already in the United States or arriving at a U.S. port of entry.
  • Refugee: This status is sought by individuals who are outside of the United States and are applying for protection from abroad through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or directly to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Who Is Eligible for Asylum Status?

To be eligible for asylum in the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You are physically present in the United States or seeking entry at a port of entry.
  2. You have a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
  3. You are not barred from asylum due to previous immigration violations, criminal activity, or other disqualifying factors.

Who is Eligible for Refugee Status?

Eligibility for refugee status generally includes:

  1. Being located outside of your home country and the United States.
  2. Meeting the definition of a refugee as defined by the U.S. government, which aligns with international standards.
  3. Being referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by the UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy, or certain non-governmental organizations.

What is the Asylum Application Process?

The asylum application process involves several steps:

  1. Filing the Application: Submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your last arrival in the United States.
  2. Biometric Services Appointment: Attend a biometric services appointment for fingerprinting and background checks.
  3. Asylum Interview: Participate in an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer, where you will present your case and evidence.
  4. Decision: Receive a decision from USCIS. If your application is approved, you will be granted asylum. If not, you may be referred to an immigration judge for further review.

Is the Government Required to Notify Asylum Applicants?

Yes, the government is required to notify asylum applicants of the decision on their application. If the initial application is denied, applicants are typically referred to an immigration court for removal proceedings, where they can continue to argue their case for asylum before an immigration judge.

Withholding of Removal

Withholding of removal is a form of protection for individuals who may not meet the criteria for asylum but can demonstrate that their life or freedom would be threatened if returned to their home country. This protection prevents deportation but does not offer the same benefits as asylum, such as a pathway to permanent residency.

Asylum FAQ

How Long Does the Asylum Process Take?

The length of the asylum process can vary significantly. After submitting your application, it may take several months to receive an interview, and the decision-making process can also take several months. If your case is referred to an immigration judge, this can extend the process further.

Can I Work While My Asylum Application is Pending?

Asylum applicants can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if their application has been pending for at least 150 days without a decision. If approved, you will be allowed to work legally in the United States while your asylum case is being processed.

What Happens if My Asylum Application is Denied?

If your asylum application is denied by USCIS, your case may be referred to an immigration judge for a removal hearing. You will have the opportunity to present your case again in court. If the judge denies your application, you may appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Can I Include My Family in My Asylum Application?

Yes, you can include your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 in your asylum application. If granted asylum, your family members may also be eligible for asylum status.

What Is the Difference Between Asylum and Withholding of Removal?

Asylum provides a pathway to permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship. Withholding of removal only prevents deportation to a country where you would face persecution but does not provide a pathway to permanent residency or other benefits associated with asylum.

Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for Asylum?

There’s no legal requirement that you have an attorney to apply for asylum, but it’s widely recommended. The U.S. immigration system and asylum process is very complex, and having experienced legal representation can ensure you have an experienced advocate who can help you navigate the process and position you for success. 

How We Can Help

At Brown Immigration Law, we understand the critical importance of obtaining asylum or refugee status for those fleeing persecution. Our experienced attorneys are committed to providing:

  • Experienced Guidance: We help you understand your eligibility and the best course of action for your specific situation.
  • Comprehensive Support: From preparing and submitting applications to representing you in interviews and court proceedings, we are with you every step of the way.
  • Personalized Service: Every case is unique, and we tailor our approach to meet your individual needs and circumstances. 

Request a Consultation Today: (813) 791-7535 

Navigating the asylum and refugee process can be overwhelming, but you don't have to face it alone. Brown Immigration Law is an award-winning immigration law firm with a reputation for providing experienced, personalized guidance through a range of immigration matters – including the asylum and refugee status application processes. 

To learn more about our services and how we can help you, call (813) 791-7535 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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