In 2012, 24,800 Syrians sought asylum in industrialized countries, including the United States, making Syria the second largest exporter of asylum seekers in the world (after Afghanistan). This is unsurprising of course, knowing that almost 93,000 Syrians have been killed over the course of the conflict. In the United States, 566 Syrian nationals applied for asylum between January 2011 and August 2012. In 2013, the number of Syrian asylum seekers is undoubtedly higher. It appears the success rates are fairly high for Syrians seeking asylum at USCIS Asylum Offices across the country. One report notes that out of the 441 applications that were filed at asylum offices between January and August 2012, 65% were approved. Below, I discuss the different ways that Syrians can seek protection from the U.S. Government.
Affirmative Asylum Applicants:
For Syrians who have recently arrived in the United States or who have only recently become afraid of returning to Syria, they can apply for asylum with USCIS. In order to succeed on their asylum claim, they must establish they have a fear of being persecuted in Syria because of their political opinion, religion, race, nationality, or social group. During the affirmative asylum process, applicants are interviewed by asylum officers at regional asylum officers. Officers may grant applicants asylum after the interview. If they do not grant the application, officers may deny the case or refer the case to Immigration Court, depending on the applicant's immigration status at the time of the interview.
While past performance is no guarantee of future success, our office has successfully handled a number of affirmative asylum cases from Syria, and if you would like to discuss your asylum case with us, please find information about how to set up a consultation with our office on this page.
Defensive Asylum Applicants:
For Syrians already in removal proceedings at the Immigration Court, they can apply for asylum as a form of relief from removal. Asylum applicants already in removal proceedings are not interviewed by an asylum officer, but have to argue that they are eligible for asylum in front of an immigration judge.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrians:
In addition to asylum, the U.S. Government is currently offering “Temporary Protected Status” to Syrians who have been present in the United States since June 17, 2013. TPS allows qualifying Syrians to remain in the United States legally until at least March 31, 2015, to obtain a work permit, and also to apply for travel authorization. In order to qualify for TPS, applicants must be a national or a former habitual resident of Syria, file during the registration period, have been continuously physically present and residing in the United States since June 17, 2013, and not face any criminal or national security bars to eligibility. The current application period runs from June 17, 2013 to December 16, 2013. For more information, please see the USCIS TPS page.
Can I apply for both TPS and Asylum?
If you believe that you qualify for asylum, you may apply for TPS at the same time as you apply for asylum. Applying for both forms of protection at the same time will not hurt either application.
Call or text 703.964.0245.
Carly Stadum-Liang, Esq.