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Every year people from all over the world travel to the United States and other countries in search of asylum because they have suffered or fear that they may suffer persecution for a number of reasons, including race, nationality, religion, and association with a particular social or political group. In order to be eligible for asylum, applicants must establish grounds for fear of persecution and must prove that, if they were to return to their origin country, they would face persecution based on one of the above protected grounds. They must also establish that the government in their home country is involved in the persecution or is not able to stop private entities from carrying out said persecution.

In 2012, nearly 900,000 people worldwide submitted applications for asylum. The United States received the bulk of these applications, with approximately 70,400 asylum claims last year.

The application process for those seeking asylum can be lengthy and confusing, even to a U.S. citizen who speaks English, let alone to someone who likely faces a language and culture barrier. Those of us who have travelled internationally can perhaps relate on some grounds to those displaced individuals who are in an entirely new country with an entirely different culture, and who in most instances cannot speak or understand English. So where do these people turn? Luckily, there are plenty of organizations and programs in place that offer services to seekers of asylum.

Why Hire a Salt Lake City Immigration Attorney?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the only legal organization in the nation for immigration attorneys, with more than 12,000 members. They provide a nationwide registry of lawyers that specialize in immigration lawat www.ailalawyer.com

The United States Department of Justice also provides a list of legal resources for those seeking help with their legal immigration matters via their Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP). Since early 2000, OLAP has made strides to assist those individuals facing immigration proceedings by providing new incentives for immigration attorneys to take on pro bono cases. Although OLAP does not offer or provide links to pro bono services, The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge within the EOIR maintains a List of Free Legal Service Providers, which is organized by geographic location. This list can be found at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm. The EOIR has also maintained the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), which serves all parties in immigration proceedings by providing access to representatives from nonprofit organizations that are there to offer basic legal information, group workshops, and referrals to pro bono counsel.

Another, albeit short, list of pro bono legal representatives can be found athttp://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/refugee-protection/probono-program/.

Information and flowcharts about legal proceedings beyond seeking asylum, such as how to apply for a green card or citizenship, and how to reunite with family members, can be found at a number of web sites, including:

  • http://www.immigrantjustice.org/immigration-process

  • http://www.asylumlaw.org/legal_tools/

  • http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=0a3566e7d9fd4210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=e8df9a2561204210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

There are a number of other, non-legal services that asylum seekers will need to integrate themselves into this country and help them adjust to life in the United States. A lot of people who have won asylum in the United States relate that, though an exciting time of rebuilding, there are also a lot of different adjustments they have to make, including learning the language, fitting in to our cultural norms, and finding work. Fortunately, there are a number of other, non-legal services available to asylum seekers that will assist their integration into their new lives.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) funds and administers programs to help make those who have been granted asylum integrate to life in this country, and these programs vary from state-to-state. These benefits include cash and medical assistance, employment preparation and job placement, and English language classes. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network has provided a very helpful online brochure detailing such benefits at http://cliniclegal.org/sites/default/files/2010CLINIC_Asylee_Sprdfin.pdf.

The United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants provides a number of online resources on resettlement topics ranging from cultural integration to health and nutrition. These can be found at http://www.refugees.org/resources/for-refugees–immigrants/.

In the last 35 years, the United States has become home to more than 3 million refugees. Adjusting to life in a new country presents plenty of challenges, but the majority of refugees do well in adapting to their new lives in addition to finding new opportunities for themselves and their families that weren’t present in the country they left behind.

SOURCES

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