Lived in another country before U.S., with no status: Was I firmly resettled, barred from asylum?

Guidance on convincing the U.S. government that you received no offer of resettlement elsewhere and thus are not barred from applying for asylum in the U.S.

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Question

I am a citizen of Belarus who fled my country after my life was threatened on account of my political opinion. I used a fraudulent passport to enter Germany, where I lived for eight months until I could make my way to the United States. I did not apply for any status in Germany. Can I apply for asylum in the United States?

Answer

A person is barred from receiving asylum in the U.S. if an immigration judge or asylum officer finds that he or she is firmly resettled in another country. If you were offered any type of permanent status while in Germany (such as citizenship, the equivalent of a green card, or some other status that allows an indefinite stay), you may be barred from receiving asylum in the United States.

Because you did not apply for any status in Germany, the judge or officer should not find that you were firmly resettled there. You can explain that your plan was always to come to the United States, and that you stayed in Germany for only as long as you had to until you could continue to your final destination. (The longer someone’s stay, the more likely the asylum officer or immigration judge is to question whether the person did, in fact, receive some sort of status there.)

It would also help if you did not have any significant ties to Germany like property, employment, or family with permanent status there. (See 8 C.F.R. Section 208.15(a).)

Be prepared to explain why you did not seek refuge or other status in Germany, especially if you have those types of ties to the country.

If you are worried about proving that you were not firmly resettled in Germany, you should definitely consider consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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