APPLYING FOR ASYLUM JUST GOT A LOT RISKIER

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By David Sperling

Applying for asylum was always risky.  If their case is denied, asylum applicants could wind up with a deportation order.

Last month, immigration officials announced a change in procedure that could put asylum applicants in deportation proceedings almost immediately.

Recent entrants who are apprehended at the border often have no other choice but to apply for asylum since that is almost always their only relief. They are also required to apply for asylum within one year of entry, with a few limited exceptions.

Anyone not apprehended is also subject to the one-year deadline.  However, there is another form of relief — called Withholding of Removal — that utilizes the same I-589 application form but is not subject to the one-year deadline.

In the past, anyone filing an I-589 application could reasonably expect a two-year delay before the Asylum Office would schedule an interview.  In the meantime, the applicant would be eligible to apply for a work permit.

Now, however, asylum applicant are scheduled for interviews within 21 days. The local Asylum Office, located in Bethpage, cannot deny an asylum or withholding application. But if they do not approve the case after a non-adversarial interview, applicants will be issued a Notice to Appear and they will quickly be placed into deportation proceedings at Immigration Court, located at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City.

For some applicants with strong cases, this change in procedure is good news, especially if they have spouses or minor children in their home country who would be eligible to immigrate as asylum derivatives.  But for others, the risk of a speedy deportation order will outweigh any possible benefit.

As in all immigration cases in these uncertain times, it is absolutely essential to consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing an application for asylum or withholding of removal.

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