If you fear returning to your country because past persecution or future persecution, you may apply for political asylum in the United States. In most cases, you must apply for political asylum within one year of your last entry into the United States. If you succeed in proving your case, you are admitted as a refugee. A refugee is defined as any person who is outside their country who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. In addition, you must also be unable to avail yourself of protection from that country.
The “nexus” requirement is one of the more difficult to prove when applying for asylum. Unfortunately, many people are harmed or threatened in their countries, but not all with a nexus to a qualifying ground. An asylum seeker must show that the harm they suffered or fear has a nexus to the qualifying ground. In essence, this means that the asylum seeker must demonstrate that the persecutor has a motive connected to one of the grounds.
In other words, the asylum seeker must possess a belief or characteristic that the persecutor seeks to overcome, the persecutor is already aware of this characteristic or belief, the persecutor has the ability to punish the asylum seeker, and the persecutor has the inclination to punish the asylum seeker.
On May 11, 2005, President George Bush signed into law the REAL ID Act of 2005. Among other things, this law directly affected asylum seekers in the United States and how they must prove their cases. One of the changes this law made was that the asylum applicant must show that his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion “was or will be at least one central reason for” the persecution that occurred or will occur. Another change in asylum law resulting from this law is that the asylum seeker must provide corroborating evidence that is reasonably available or explain why such evidence was not provided. This is a twist on the former rule that testimony alone could allow the asylum seeker to meet his or her burden of proof. While the burden on the asylum seeker is heavier in terms or corroborating evidence, credible and plausible testimony alone can still suffice to meet the burden.
The Atlanta immigration lawyers at Pozo Goldstein, LLP possess the experience it takes to represent asylum seekers in their quest for the protection of the United States. Our partners are comprised of two former immigration prosecutors and a former judge. This unique team has represented clients for both the U.S. Government and people like you seeking political asylum and presided over cases involving criminal and immigration issues.
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