There are many reasons why an individual chooses to travel to America, and there are even more reasons for remaining in the country permanently with the hopes of obtaining a green card and even citizenship. However, some immigrants decide to enter the United States as a mean of safety or sanctuary. Coming to America may be a person’s only chance for survival in an extremely dire circumstance. But because they are not aware of their rights and the immigration laws, they soon find themselves in the removal process because the American government believes they unlawfully entered the country.

There is a way to stop this removal process. Much like one is able to apply for asylum upon entering the country, an immigrant is also afforded the right to file an application for asylum as a defense.

There are two ways the defensive asylum process could begin. The first is when an immigrant initially seeks asylum and is determined ineligible at the end of the process. The second is when an immigrant is placed in a removal proceeding because they were apprehended or caught in the U.S. or at an entry point without having the proper legal documentations or were caught by U.S. customs trying to enter the U.S. without proper documentation and were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture by an Asylum Officer.

In order to be eligible for asylum, the individual’s credible fear needs to be assessed. This means that the immigrant has a credible fear of being persecuted, they have a credible fear of torture or they fear returning to their home country. An Immigration Judge will determine if there is a significant possibility that an immigrant has been persecuted against based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion or has a well founded fear of persecution or torture if he or she returns to their home nation.

It should be noted that there are certain situations that may cause a denial of asylum or withholding of removal. This includes the persecution of others, being convicted of a serious crime, belief that the immigrant committed serious nonpolitical crimes outside of the U.S., engaged in or are likely to engage in terrorist activities, were firmly resettled or reasonable grounds to believe that the immigrant is a danger to the security of the U.S.

Whether you are seeking asylum or utilizing another deportation defense, it is important to understand the process and what rights are afforded to you. This can be a confusing and trying time, especially for an individual who does not understand the laws of the nation or what his or her future may hold. A legal professional can help guide you through this, form beginning to end.