Asylum Immigration

Asylum is a complex area of immigration law. At Hyder Law, we understand the Humanitarian dimension to Asylum cases and are exceptionally sensitive to an Asylum seeker’s needs. As a client, expect not only expert treatment of your Asylum case but considerable attention to your personal story and your needs.
At Hyder Law, we assist Asylees who are already in the U.S. We handle both Affirmative Asylum cases and Defensive Asylum cases. In this article, we provide basic background on the Affirmative Asylum Process.

There are three asylum seeking scenarios

  1. Applying for Asylum once in the U.S. This process is known as “Affirmative Asylum.”
  2. Applying for Asylum once you are already in Removal Proceedings (Deportation). This process is known as “Defensive Asylum.”
  3. Applying for Asylum at a U.S. border.

The Difference Between an Asylee and a Refugee

The main difference between an Asylee and a Refugee is whether the person is inside or outside the U.S. The legal definition of a Refugee is, “[a]ny person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well founded fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” In other words, provided all criteria are met, there are 5 grounds on which an Asylee must base their application for Asylum: (1) Race (2) Religion (3) Nationality (4) Membership in a particular social group, and (5) Political Opinion. The legal definition of an Asylee is anyone who fits within the definition of a Refugee, plus they are already in the U.S. or seeking entry at a U.S. border.

Membership in a Particular Social Group

The “membership in a particular social group” ground for Asylum requires further clarification as there is no specific list of social groups anywhere in Asylum Law. Successful Asylum cases that have traveled through the U.S. Court system provide guidance on the meaning of membership in a particular social group. Note that it is the membership in a group which subjects Asylees to persecution – it is not anything specific or particular about the individual Asylee. The following types of groups have been successful in Asylum cases* (however, membership in any one of these groups is no guarantee of success and this list is not complete, but rather provides some idea of the definition of social groups for Asylum purposes):

  1. Sexual Orientation (such Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual, Transgender individuals)
  2. Gender-Based (such as women who oppose the practice of female mutilation where this practice is part of tradition and culturally accepted)
  3. Property Owners with Formal Education (such as owning land and having more advanced education than others, making oneself/one’s family the target of persecution)
  4. Clan Membership (where that clan affiliation subjects you/your family to persecution
  5. Former status, occupation, or experience (such as having had the experience of being a slave and then being persecuted for this prior status or being persecuted for having been a gang member)

Special thanks to the Source of this list:

U.C. Hastings Law Professor Karen Musalo, for The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association Hot Topics in Asylum, Particular Social Group Analysis.

At Hyder Law, we will provide you with an extensive Asylum consultation to determine whether you are eligible to apply on any of the 5 grounds. For those Asylum seekers who are persecuted on the basis of membership in a particular group, a Hyder Lawyer will listen closely and sensitively to your personal history to provide you with expert Asylum services.

The Affirmative Asylum Process

For Asylum seekers presently in the U.S., a formal application must be made to USCIS. This application is the I-589, and must be made within the first year of arrival to the U.S. There are exceptions to the one year deadline. If you are seeking Asylum and have been present in the U.S. for more than a year, a Hyder Lawyer will discuss with you during your consultation whether you qualify for one of the exceptions. If you have been denied Asylum in the Affirmative process, you may contact a Hyder Lawyer for a comprehensive consultation on your rights to an appeal. The appeals process can be long, however, you will usually be permitted to remain in the U.S. until you have exhausted all of your appeal rights. For information on the Affirmative Asylum process, please visit the official USCIS website:

Affirmative Asylum

The Defensive Asylum Process

Once a person is placed in Removal Proceedings (meaning, Deportation) Asylum can be a defense against the removal from the U.S. This proceeding will look like any court proceeding with a judge, the alien and his/her lawyer (if a lawyer is retained), and a lawyer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

If the Asylum defense is unsuccessful, the alien can appeal the judge’s decision. Usually, the alien can remain in the U.S. during the appeal process. If you are in Removal Proceedings and have a fear of being persecuted if you return to your country, a Hyder Lawyer can represent you during your Removal Proceedings and raise the Asylum defense on your behalf.

For more information on the Defensive Asylum process, please visit the official USCIS website:

Defensive Asylum

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