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Seeking asylum: A difficult battle

The United States guarantees asylum to individuals who are in the country and can prove they have suffered persecution or have a legitimate fear that they will if they go back to their country of origin. This is one very viable path to citizenship in the country. Also, the country does not limit the number of people who can seek asylum. Nevertheless, immigrants seeking citizenship always face hurdles in their chance for a new life.

To obtain asylum privileges, candidates must make a case. This is usually completed through interviews with immigration officials. If they make an unsuccessful case, immigrants must return to their home country. However, it is important to know that the process is very difficult. Approximately 86,053 applicants sought asylum in the U.S. in 2012; however, only 29 percent were victorious.

There are two ways to make a pitch for asylum: affirmative and defensive. Affirmative cases are initiated by applicants who are legally in the country at the moment. A defensive case is when someone is in the country illegally, and the filer is attempting to prevent deportation. Defensive applicants must present physical evidence, provide witnesses and submit proof of the conditions in their country of origin. Ultimately, they must include information to demonstrate that they were persecuted at home or would be if they returned.

The case for asylum is not easy. For this reason, it is best to retain a qualified immigration attorney in developing a case. Again, the burden of proof is very difficult. One mistake could lead to automatic deportation, which could send victims back into poor living conditions. To learn more about immigration options, contact an experienced lawyer in your area.

Source: NBC News, "For asylum seekers, path to citizenship is paved with peril," Petra Cahill, April 17, 2013

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