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The asylum process

There are many people in Lancaster and across Pennsylvania who come to this country each year in search of a safer life. These people flee persecution in their home countries with the hope that they will be able to start over in the U.S. For these people, asylum is often their best chance of being protected from their own governments.

The asylum process can be complex, however, and trying to work off the information provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services alone may be extremely difficult. Before most people even consider filing a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Witholding of Removal, they seek out the help of an immigration attorney.

For those asylum seekers whose spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are with them in the United States, they can be added to the asylum application at any time until a final decision has been made. If an asylum seeker's family is outside the United States, he or she has two years from the date he or she is granted asylum to file a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, which is required to bring over family members.

As an asylum seeker waits to appear before an immigration judge or official, he or she may apply for employment authorization (which allows him or her to work in the U.S.) if a final decision has not been made within the first 150 days after filing an asylum application. If an asylum seeker does not have employment authorization prior to a final decision being reached, he or she is able to work immediately after being granted asylum.

There are numerous things that need to be remembered when applying for asylum, and if an applicant makes even the smallest of mistakes, he or she could be sent back to the country from which he or she escaped.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Asylum," Accessed July 22, 2014

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