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Affirmative Asylum Immigration Lawyer Serving Washington, DC and Northern Virginia

If you fled persecution in your country of origin and are seeking refuge in the United States, you should retain the services of a skilled immigration lawyer in DC to help determine whether you should file an affirmative asylum petition. If your affirmative asylum petition is granted, you will be protected from deportation to your home country. You will be authorized to work in the United States and even have the option to apply for a Social Security card. You may also be able to petition to bring your family to the United States. You may be eligible for certain government programs. Once a year has passed, you can apply for a green card, and four years from the date of becoming a lawful permanent resident, you can apply for U.S. citizenship.


Though, there are risks associated with petitioning for affirmative asylum. This is because, with an affirmative asylum petition, you are raising your need for asylum before the system seeks to remove you. This means, if your asylum petition is not approved and you do not have a legal immigration status, there is a high likelihood of a Notice to Appear being issued, which is the first step in removal proceedings. This is why it is so important to hire an effective DC immigration attorney who understands the asylum process.

Overview of the Affirmative Asylum Process

Assessing Your Eligibility


One of the first steps that needs to be taken is assessing whether you are even eligible for asylum. For example, you need to file an application for asylum within one year from entering into the United States. The only exceptions available for this strict filing deadline entail providing evidence substantiating that you experienced changed circumstances that materially impacted your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances caused the delay.


In addition to the one-year time requirement, you might not be eligible to apply for affirmative asylum if an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals denied your application, or if you could be removed to a safe third party under a two-party or multi-party agreement between other countries and the United States. However, there are exceptions for extraordinary circumstances.

File Form I-589


Once your eligibility to apply for affirmative asylum is confirmed, you (in collaboration with your DC immigration attorney) will need to complete and file Form I-589, which is the Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. 

Provide Fingerprints


After USCIS receives a copy of the completed Form I-589, you will receive acknowledgement of receipt of your application and notice to visit the nearest application support center for fingerprinting. You will need to bring your ASC Notice with you to a fingerprinting appointment. An interview will be scheduled with an asylum officer.

Interview with Asylum Officer


Asylum interviews are scheduled according to certain criteria for priority. The first priority is applications previously scheduled for interview, but which had to be rescheduled based on an applicant’s request or USCIS needs.


The interview with an asylum officer typically lasts around one hour, but may be shorter or longer depending on your specific case. As your DC immigration attorney, Edwin Palacio may help you identify witnesses to testify on your behalf and secure an interpreter, when necessary. The asylum officer will look at whether you meet the definition of a refugee or whether you are barred from receiving asylum. In some cases, the decision will be referred to staff at USCIS headquarters for further review.

Positives and Potential Pitfalls with Affirmative Asylum 


The affirmative asylum process features both major positives, but equally risky pitfalls. For example, if your affirmative asylum petition is approved, the positive is that you will be granted the status of “asylee” which means you will be able to work and live in the United States indefinitely. 

However, there is a major pitfall associated with applying for affirmative asylum - your petition could be denied and that very same application could be used as a basis for deportation. Basically, if your affirmative case is not denied, USCIS will likely issue a Form I-862, which is a Notice to Appear. This is the first formal document in the removal process. 

The affirmative asylum process can be challenging to effectively navigate alone. Because this process involves high stakes, it is extremely important to retain the services of Edwin Palacio, a skilled immigration lawyer in DC and Northern Virginia. Edwin will go to work immediately on your behalf to help ensure your asylum petition is granted.

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