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Seeking Asylum With a Criminal Record in New York (2024)

Seeking Asylum With a Criminal Record in New York (2024)

People who are fleeing their host or home countries due to fear of persecution come from all over the world to ask for asylum in New York. An asylee is a person who has been granted asylum status by the United States, and this status comes with the right to live and work in the country, along with access to benefits and an eventual path to citizenship. If you are seeking asylum but have a criminal record, a New York asylum lawyer can assist you in meeting your immigration goals.

While being granted asylum is an excellent opportunity, the path to getting there is long. To be eligible to apply for or receive asylum status, you must meet some key requirements. Many individuals with a criminal record wonder how this will impact their ability to seek and receive asylum. If you are an asylum seeker with a criminal record, you need to learn about how this could impact your NY asylum application.

Seeking Asylum with a Criminal Record in New York

What Crimes Make Someone Ineligible for Asylum in New York?

It’s important to note that having a criminal record does not automatically make you ineligible for asylum. Based on the details and circumstances of the offenses on your record, you could still be able to seek and receive asylum. According to U.S. federal law, the following factors deem a person ineligible to receive asylee status:

  • There is reasonable suspicion that the applicant poses a danger to the U.S. government.
  • The applicant has persecuted others.
  • The applicant has a history or record of participating in terrorist-related activities.
  • There is an existing conviction for a particularly serious crime.
  • The applicant’s record has a serious conviction of a non-political nature.

This criminal bar is mandatory for all asylum seekers, meaning that, even if their situation is found to meet the definition of refugee status, they are not allowed to be granted asylum. Their asylum application will be rejected and if they are applying as a derivative of a family member who has achieved asylum, they will be barred using this pathway as well.

How Can the U.S. Government Know My Criminal Record?

When you apply for asylum via the affirmative asylum pathway, you will need to fill out Form I-589, in which you will be requested to report your criminal history. You are required under U.S. law to tell the truth about your record, and you will be given the opportunity to fully explain any crimes that you have been charged with or convicted of in other countries.

It’s important to be honest; if you are caught being untruthful, the United States Customs and Immigration Services will likely throw out the credibility of your entire application.

In addition to asking you about your previous criminal history in other countries, the USCIS will take your fingerprints and do a criminal background check on you to see whether you have been convicted of crimes in the United States. If you have a criminal record from your time inside or outside of the U.S., an experienced asylum lawyer can help you with reporting and justifying the crimes coming up on your record.


What Crimes Are Considered “Particularly Serious Crimes” for an Asylum Application?

According to U.S. federal law, “particularly serious crimes” are those that bar a non-citizen from receiving asylum status if they are on their criminal record. Crimes that are considered to be “particularly serious” include:

  • Violent or dangerous criminal convictions, such as sex crimes or assault crimes
  • Aggravated felony convictions, such as prostitution, smuggling of undocumented aliens, and murder

An experienced asylum lawyer can analyze the details of your case and help you determine whether the crimes on your record may be considered “particularly serious”.

What Are the 2 Types of Asylum?

The two main types of asylum are affirmative and defensive asylum. Affirmative asylum is applied for by filing Form I-589 with adequate supporting evidence. It must be filed within one year of arriving in the country, although there are some exceptions, such as having a medical emergency.

The defensive asylum process is triggered when a person receives a deportation or removal order or a notice to appear in immigration court. That person can then express their intent to apply for asylum or that they have a fear of being persecuted or tortured in their home country.

Can I Apply for Asylum Without a Lawyer in New York?

Yes, it is possible to apply for asylum without a lawyer in New York through the affirmative asylum process. However, this is generally not advisable, as having legal representation can greatly influence your chances of having a positive case outcome. An asylum lawyer can help you properly fill out your application with all supporting paperwork on time. They can also protect your rights and help you prepare for your interview.

What Should I Do If I Am Criminally Barred From Receiving Asylum in the USA?

If you are ineligible to receive asylum status in the United States due to your criminal record, there are other options that you can exercise to legally stay in the country. The relief that you can still apply for includes withholding from removal and seeking protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture. An experienced asylum lawyer can help you apply for these forms of relief.

Work With a New York Asylum Lawyer to Solve Challenges With Your Case

Applying for asylum comes with serious barriers as a result of the strict requirements, difficult bureaucratic and legal processes, and anxiety as a result of the high stakes. If you have been convicted of a crime in the past, you should not lose your right to international protection due to a small mistake or false accusation made long ago.

A compassionate asylum lawyer from the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, can help you successfully overcome all of your asylum-related process barriers or find alternative legal pathways to living and working in New York. Contact our legal team today to get started.

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