New Jersey Immigration Attorney Discusses Threats by Gang Violence
As a dedicated New Jersey Immigration Attorney, I am often asked by clients about threats to them from gangs in their home country. I met with an individual who came to my office extremely distressed about a month ago. He’s from Guatemala and about a month ago some gang members had killed his brother for various gang related reasons. He’s petrified to return to Guatemala and wanted to know if he had any options to help him remain here in the US.
The first thing that came to my mind was possibly filing an application for political asylum. Of course, every circumstance is different and there are many requirements that have to be met, but in general if someone is from a country and they fear persecution upon returning to their country they may be a candidate to file a political asylum application. In general, immigration requires that you file the application within one year of your arrival to the US.
Under certain circumstances, you can file after one year of entry and get an exception. One reason would be if there are changed circumstances, such as something that happened abroad, like a revolution or political problems or sometimes a gang problem that happened abroad that directly impacts your life and your fear to return home. That’s important to remember, the one-year filing deadline, unless you can qualify for an exception.
Also, you have to be able to prove and document that you have fear of being persecuted if you were to return home. You have to be able to document this. Your fear can be based on your nationality, your race, your religion, your gender, your political opinion, being a member of a particular social group. Those are all legitimate fears to be the basis for fear of your returning home and being persecuted. You might need medical reports or death certificates. The more documentation that you can obtain, the better, because eventually you will be having an interview at the asylum office or in front of an immigration judge where you present all your documentation.
Assuming your asylum application is granted, then one year later you would be eligible to file for a green card if there are quota numbers available. I think it’s about 10,000 per year that can file for a Green Card. If the quota has been met, then you would be on a long waiting list, but eventually you could file for adjustment of status and obtain your Green Card. That’s a really great benefit, and of course when you have your Green Card and eventually become a citizen, you can sponsor other family members as well.
Have you felt threatened by gang violence in your home country? Contact our professional New Jersey Immigration Attorney for help.