{3:48 minutes to read} In our recent blog regarding Steve’s trip to Tibet in May of this year, he noted the oppressive conditions under which Tibetans have been suffering since the PRC invaded in 1951. The continued persecution of the Tibetan people by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has also been well-documented by human rights advocacy groups and the United States Department of State. As a result, it is possible for many Tibetans now in the United States or traveling to the U.S. to qualify for asylum protection under the American immigration laws. It is our aim at SMA to help as many of those people as we can.

To qualify for asylum in the United States a foreign national must show:

— That he or she has been persecuted in the past or has a well-founded fear of future persecution, on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; and

— That the government of his or her country of nationality, or in the case of an individual who is stateless, the government of the country where he or she last habitually resided, is unwilling or unable to protect him/her from such persecution.  

This is usually shown through a combination of oral testimony and documentary evidence which are presented to an Asylum Officer or an immigration judge after the foreign national has filed an asylum application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The asylum application must be filed within 1 year of arrival in the United States unless it can be shown that 1 of the 2 exceptions to the one-year filing deadline applies. It is also possible for a foreign national who is in deportation or removal proceedings, to raise a claim for asylum as a defense to removal, however this can only be done in front of an immigration judge.

There is no set list of what treatment constitutes persecution. Rather, there is a wide-range of treatment that often, when combined, is considered sufficiently serious by the courts to constitute persecution. Because of this, it is extremely important for an individual who believes that he or she has been persecuted, to speak with a qualified immigration attorney about whether or not they are eligible to apply for asylum.

While the process of applying for asylum protection can be a lengthy one, asylum is an exceptional benefit because it allows an asylum applicant to live and work in a protected status in the United States during the entire course of the application process. Once granted, the recipient and his or her spouse and children are entitled to remain permanently in the United States with the freedom to leave and return as they wish, and without fear that they will be returned to the place where they fear harm.

Finally, an individual need not be from Tibet to qualify for asylum; individuals from any country outside the United States, who meet the criteria listed above, may qualify for asylum protection.

If you have any questions regarding eligibility or the process please contact us. We are here to help.

Please contact our asylum/immigration specialist Kate Chaltain at kchaltain@smalawyers.com