What is a “particular social group” for asylum?

In order to obtain asylum in the U.S., foreigners must show fear of harm directly related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a “particular social group”.

What is a “particular social group” is interpreted differently by courts in different parts of the U.S. According to the Ninth Circuits Court of Appeals (where Arizona belongs), it is a particular social group as one in which the members are united by a voluntary association OR by an innate characteristic that is so fundamental to the identities or consciences of its members, that members either cannot or should not be required to change it (e.g., young women in Guatemala subject to femicide).

Here are some examples of “particular social groups”: former gang members or gang violence recipients (e.g., a former member of MS-13), family members (e.g., mother who fears that her minor daughter would be subject to FGM), domestic violence victims (e.g., Honduran woman unable to leave her relationship), people with mental illness or physical disability (e.g., persons with bipolar disorder who exhibit erratic behavior), witnesses (e.g., who publicly provide assistance to law enforcement against major Salvadoran gangs), landowners (e.g., Colombian landowners who refused to cooperate with FARC).

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.  We simplified the law to provide general information about one aspect of asylum laws. If you would like to discuss whether you qualify for an asylum, schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer in Phoenix at today or call our office at 480-425-2009! We look forward to talking with you!


How can an undocumented immigrant get legal status in the US?

Some undocumented foreign nationals may be eligible for asylum if they can establish that because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality, and are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country.

Foreign nationals in removal proceedings may be eligible for cancellation of removal if (i) they have been physically present in the US for a continuous period of 10 years, (ii) have been persons of good moral character for 10 years, (iii) have not bee convicted of certain offenses, (iv) establish that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to US citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child and (v) warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.

Persons who: (i) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain criminal activity (such as murder, rape, kidnapping, domestic violence), (ii) possess credible and reliable information establishing that (s)he has knowledge of details concerning the criminal activity, (iii) have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity and (iv) criminal activity occurred in the US or violated a US federal law that provided for extraterritorial jurisdiction may qualify for U visa.

Certain persons are allowed to apply of adjustment of status notwithstanding the fact that they entered without inspection, overstayed, or worked without authorization if: they (a) are beneficiaries of a labor certification or visa petition filed on or before January 14, 1998; or (ii) are beneficiaries of a labor certification of visa petition that was filed after January 14, 1998 but on or before April 30, 2001, and were physically present in the US on December 21, 2000.

Undocumented immigrant’s spouse, adult child or parent who are US citizens may petition for their legal permanent resident status.

Temporary protected status (TPS) is a temporary benefit to certain nationals of designated countries due to conditions in the country (such as ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or an epidemic or other extraordinary and temporary conditions) that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning. Countries currently designated for TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Undocumented persons who demonstrate that the (i) they came to the US before reaching 16th birthday, (ii) were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012, (iii) have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, up to the present time, (iv) entered without inspection or were out of status on June 15, 2012, (v) were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, (vi) are currently in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained GED certificate or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or US Armed Forces may qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Please note that this article does not constitute a legal advice.  We simplified the law to outline some of the options to consider for undocumented immigrants to get legal status in the US. If you would like to obtain legal status in the US, call our experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.


Proposed USCIS filing fee increase

In November 2019, the Department of Homeland Security proposed to adjust USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 21 percent, add new fees, and make other changes, including form changes and the introduction of several new forms. For example, the filing fee for the application for naturalization is proposed to increase by 83% to $1,170, petition for H-2A non-immigrant worker by 87% to $860 (named worker), petition for L non-immigrant worker by 77% to $815 and petition for O non-immigrant worker by 55% to $715.

On July 22, 2020, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs completed review of a final rule increasing USCIS filing fees. The Federal Register will post a copy of the final rule for public inspection before publishing it officially. In the proposed rule, DHS noted that once the rule was finalized, it would not take effect for at least 60 days after publication.

If you are considering applying for a naturalization, green card or non-immigrant status, call an experienced immigration attorney at (480) 425-2009 or contact us through our website to schedule a consultation
before the filing fees increase.


Supreme Court Rules Asylum Seekers Cannot Seek Federal Court Review of Expedited Removal Orders

A citizen of Sri Lanka attempted to enter the US illegally. He was apprehended just 25 yards from the border, and put in an expedited removal process. He did not show “credible fear” of persecution to avoid expedited removal. He invoked the writ of habeas corpus to obtain additional review of his asylum claim and ultimately to obtain authorization to stay in the US. Habeas has traditionally been a means to secure release from unlawful detention.

The US Supreme Court ruled that neither the Suspension Clause nor the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires any further review of his claims, and IIRIRA’s limitations on habeas review are constitutional as applied.

Please note that this article does not constitute a legal advice.  We simplified the law in order to outline the latest US Supreme Court decision and its application to review or expedited removal orders.  If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for asylum, call our experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or contact an experienced immigration attorney via our website to schedule a consultation.


Changes in employment authorization for asylum seekers

On August 25, 2020, new changes to the regulations governing asylum seekers and their eligibility for employment authorization will become effective. New regulations extend the wait time before the asylum seeker can apply for employment authorization from 150 days to 365 days. Asylum seekers who have failed to file for asylum within one year of their last entry won’t be eligible to apply until exception to the one-year requirement is approved.

The regulations prevent asylum seeker who, absent good cause, illegally entered the United States from obtaining employment authorization. In addition, regulations define new bars and denials for employment authorization, such as for certain criminal behavior; limit the employment authorization validity period to a maximum of two years; and automatically terminates employment authorization when an applicant’s asylum denial is final.

Please note that this article does not constitute a legal advice.  We simplified the law in order to outline the latest changes to employment authorization process for asylum seekers.  If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for asylum and associated work authorization, call our experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or contact an experienced immigration attorney via our website to schedule a consultation.