Monday, August 6, 2012

Basics On Gay & HIV+ Asylum Claims

Written by George Tenreiro


This Page provides information on gay and HIV+ asylum. I am an attorney who works on these type of asylum applications. I am glad to provide a free and private telephone consultation from anywhere in the U.S. -- call me at 1-862-373-1960.

Many in our community who suffered persecution in thier hostile home country or fear suffering future persecution if returned to thier country are unaware that the United States allows asylum based on sexual orientation and/or HIV-positive status since 1994 (whether the person is in the United States legally or illegally). If successful, an asylum applicant obta
ins a special immigration status that allows him or her to remain in the United States legally with work authorization and a path toward citizenship.

Anyone who qualifies for asylum should contact an experienced immigration attorney specializing in these types of claims without delay because there is a 1-year filing deadline to qualify for asylum. This means that if the person does not file within one year of being out of status, he or she generally loses the opportunity to obtain asylum (though exceptions to this deadline exist). Special considerations apply to those individuals who are "in status" on a valid nonimmigrant visa.

The term “persecution” for purposes of asylum is undefined but the harm at issue must rise above the level of mere discrimination, harassment or unpleasantness but may include actions less severe than killings, beatings, and other violent acts. An agent of the government or a private party that the government is unable or unwilling to control also need not inflict physical harm for the harm to rise to persecution. Nonphysical harm can qualify as persecution if it results in severe economic disadvantages or the deprivation of liberty. And an asylum claim may be based on government laws, policies, and/or practices that compel someone to abandon or conceal his or her sexuality for fear of being publicly identified. Accordingly, conditions for LGBTI and HIV+ individuals in most countries in the Middle-East, Africa, and the Caribbean are generally severe enough to be considered persecution. Country conditions for LGBTI and HIV+ individuals are generally improving in some South American and Asian countries but these relatively improved conditions do not necessarily negate a valid asylum claim. Circumstances vary case-by-caseb, but asylum claims are granted to those individuals who come from countries that are widely recognized to be tolerant of gays when the day-to-day living conditions prove otherwise (for example, asylum has been granted to Brazilian nationals applying for gay asylum).

Assuming someone is choosing to file an affirmative asylum application (meaning he or she is not filing a defensive application because he or she is in removal proceedings), the process takes two or so months. If successful, the asylee automatically obtains work authorization. One year later, the individual can apply for a green card. Four years after obtaining a green card, the individual can apply to be a naturalized citizen of the United States.

The asylum process is complicated and eligible applicants should seek an experienced attorney who practices in this area. If someone cannot afford an attorney, the person should research nonprofit organizations dedicated to LGBTI immigration rights because some of these organizations provide pro bono (free) representation (pro bono representation is usually contingent upon the person showing he or she makes below a certain income level).

I started this Facebook Page to provide information on this topic to many who are unaware they may qualify for asylum.
I am glad to answer anyone's questions on this topic by responding to posts on this page or by email or telephone. I provide free and private telephone consultations to discuss a particular person's circumstances in order to determine whether it makes sense to move forward with an asylum application.

I hope this helps -- let me know if you have questions.


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