U.S. immigration law permits individuals who have come to our nation in a bid to escape deplorable living conditions in their countries of origin to seek what is known as asylum. Specifically, if these individuals are able to demonstrate that they are unwilling or unable to return home owing to a well-founded fear of persecution, they will be granted asylum, meaning they can remain in the U.S. and apply for a green card after the passage of one year.
While this seems like it would be a straightforward process that would proceed relatively quickly, the reality is much different. Indeed, multiple steps must be completed in the asylum process, meaning it can take years for the federal government will make a final decision.
In recognition of how long it can actually be, the law enables applicants for asylum to seek work permits if 150 days have passed without any sort of decision being taken regarding their asylum applications.
In the event an application for asylum is ultimately denied, a relatively common occurrence, the applicant will find himself or herself placed in removal proceedings.
While this outcome is certainly less than favorable, it can nevertheless take many years for the matter of a possible deportation to be decided given the guarantee of due process (i.e., a hearing) extended to every immigrant and the sizeable backlog of asylum cases.
By way of illustration, consider that statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reveal that this backlog has grown in recent years, as applications for asylum jumped from 84,142 in fiscal year 2015 to 115,926 in fiscal year 2016.
Interestingly enough, this number is expected to explode in the coming years owing to a highly controversial -- and wholly aggressive -- legal maneuver being deployed by a growing number of legal professionals, which we'll discuss in our next post.
In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns relating to the asylum process, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can guide you through this arcane and understandably stressful process.