Individuals in Illinois who are applying for asylum usually must do so within one year of their last entry. While there are a few exceptions, requesting asylum more than one year after entry can result in being placed in removal proceedings. Individuals who are seeking asylum may want to get an attorney’s assistance if possible.
Eligibility for asylum is determined by several criteria. The person must expect or have faced persecution in their home country. The persecution must be by the government or by a group that the government refuses to or is unable to control. Finally, the persecution must be based on the individual’s political opinion, membership in a particular social group, religion, race or nationality.
For individuals who are not in removal proceedings, the first step in requesting asylum is to apply for asylum through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A decision will usually take one to two months. People whose asylum is not approved then have the opportunity to present their case in court before a judge. Individuals who are already in removal proceedings must apply with the immigration judge. It may take 6 to 24 months for a merits hearing where there will be an attorney from the Department of Homeland Security and a judge. The individual can file an appeal if asylum is denied.
The complexity and fast-changing nature of immigration law can make it difficult to navigate, and an attorney may be able to assist an individual throughout the process and help with any appeals. This might include helping with paperwork, meeting deadlines and preparing for court appearances. After being granted asylum, it might be possible for individuals to bring family members to the country, and an attorney may be able to help with this as well.