Common Mistakes During Asylum Process
Author: USA Asylum attorney Alena Shautsova
Whether filing a Pro Se Asylum application or filing an Asylum application with an attorney common mistakes still occur on a daily basis that can be easily avoided. While this article will go over the most common mistakes, you should always consult with an attorney before submitting any documents. Every case is unique and while personally I rarely rely on statistics, an individual should take note that of 40,000 applications on average per year in the US only 8,000 are granted, a whopping 20%!. Technically speaking, only about 9,500 or 25% of these applications per year are denied, the rest are either abandoned ( usually because the person does not know the procedures and protocols of the court), withdrawn or placed into an “Other” category. This “Other” category is sometimes worse than a denial not only on a person psyche but their potential to ever succeed with “fixing” their Immigration status.
To avoid these pitfalls the most common mistakes that can be corrected easily are as follows:
Don’t Show up Empty Handed
Many times when an individual gets referred to court after their initial interview I will ask them to bring in what was previously submitted to USCIS. When the only document that was submitted was the I 589 form itself, do not be surprised that the case was denied. If an individual does not consult with an attorney at that point and proceeds to court Pro Se without any supporting evidence to submit before their first appearance the likelihood of the Judge determining your case to be amicable and rule in your favor is low. The Real ID Act demands that an asylum applicant collaborates his/her story or explains why the evidence is not available. The instructions to the form might be confusing. You must present evidence if they can be obtained. The fact that your application was accepted by you filing the form itself does not mean it will be granted. Also, the fact that your request for an employment authorization was granted does not mean that your case will be granted.
Think before you speak
Normally, an individual will prepare for their interview, whether it is with an attorney or by himself or herself. Think of this as studying for a school examination, if you do not know the answer to a question, do not answer the question jut to answer the question. Instead, an individual should state that they do not remember or that they do not know. The difference between not remembering and not knowing is significant in a legal sense. If you answer “I do not know” it means that you never knew the answer. If you answer “I do not recall” it means that at some point you knew the answer, but not now.
Be On Time
Of course, you have to be on time with showing up to court or your interview at the scheduled time, but there are other instances of being on time that you should be aware of and that any attorney will handle for you, once hired, to give you a peace of mind. These instances include but are not limited to:
- the filing of appropriate supporting evidence “X” amount of days prior to your appointment. The general time frame is 30 days but check with your local USCIS office or Judge’s specific courtroom rules.
- Specifying witnesses and experts within the applicable time frame set forth by the court.
- Lodging an asylum application with the Immigration Court
- Filing motions with an Immigration court within specified by the rules times
- And of course, submitting your application within one year deadline
Moving our case from jurisdiction to jurisdiction
Are you aware that when you ask one asylum office to transfer your case to another office, your clock for the employment authorization stops? It does. And practically never restarts.
Finally, do not try to make your case “better” by inventing crazy stories, and do tell the full story. I have people coming to me after working with lawyers who did not bother to ask them about their family history or what their relatives experienced in their home country. Sometimes, we think that people “know” how it is. You should not assume that, and do tell a full and complete story.