Thousands of Syrians have fled their homes to escape the dire humanitarian crisis. Some of them have found temporary refuge in the United States through visitor visas. There is no end in sight for the daily violence and devastation that is destroying their country, and many Syrians will need to seek asylum in order to remain in the U.S.
In most cases, you start by filing an application and evidence with USCIS, this process is called affirmative asylum. To apply, you must have a demonstrated fear of persecution based upon one or more of the following:
- Membership in a social group, or
- Political opinion
The indiscriminate killing that is taking place in Syria, while horrific, is not enough to base an asylum claim upon. You must also prove your persecution is carried out by the Syrian government or a group the government is unable or unwilling to control. Obtaining the necessary evidence can be difficult and time-consuming. At a minimum, you will need proof of identify, witness affidavits, medical records for any physical harm you suffered, photographs, evidence of threats received, and country conditions evidence. Depending on the facts of your case, much more evidence may be required.
If you entered the U.S. more than 12 months ago, you will also have to prove that your delay in filing for asylum was due to extraordinary or changed circumstances. If you win your asylum case, you will be able to apply for a green card in one year.
The asylum process is complex, stressful and often lengthy. You will need to work closely with an experienced immigration attorney to carefully prepare your application and evidence. If you filed your application without the assistance of an attorney but have not yet been interviewed, it’s not too late to get the help you need.