May 23, 2013
Individuals who are faced with the difficult challenges of being out of status in the United States are unfortunately preyed upon by unscrupulous, uncaring, and greedy people who take advantage of their situation by making false claims of being able to help them fix their immigration problems. Desperately wanting help and given false assurances that help can be provided, individuals much too often agree to pursuing applications that are not only a waste of their money, but actually places them in a worst situation that having done nothing at all.
A scam that seems to be currently taking place to take honest individuals? hard earned money is the pursuit of an "economic asylum" application. Individuals are advised to file an asylum application based on the claim that they are unable to return to their home country because of the financial harm that they would encounter.
Because applicants receive a work permit from the DHS, they are initially thrilled and believe that the promises of help were real. The illusion of success, however, quickly begins to evaporate when an interview for the asylum application is scheduled with the DHS. Regardless of how financially difficult life in an applicant's home country would be should they be required to leave the US, a claim solely for "economic asylum" is not a viable claim for asylum and will almost certainly be denied.
First, it will likely be denied for being untimely filed since an individual must submit an asylum application within one year of entering the United States. Filing an application after one year of entry is allowed only if an applicant can show a change of circumstances. Additionally, an asylum application must be based on an individual's fear of returning to their home country because of past persecution or fear of future persecution due to the individual's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. An application based solely on the financial difficulties that one would encounter is not within the scope of reasons for granting an individual asylum to the United States.
Whether an individual appears for the interview and is denied, or does not appear and thereby denied, the law mandates that the DHS initiate removal proceedings against the individual. Accordingly, individuals who are tempted to pursue an "economic asylum" application in order to obtain the short-term benefit of receiving a work permit must realize that they will end up before an immigration judge needing to defend themselves in removal proceedings. As to what can be done to prevent an individual?s removal from the United States, it will greatly depend on each individual's particular circumstances.
As mentioned, our law firm has unfortunately seen a rise in individuals who have been taken advantage of by unethical "paralegals," some of whom associate themselves with licensed attorneys to make their advice seem more credible and trustworthy. Individuals should always insist on meeting, or at least specking with, a licensed attorney directly for at least the initial consultation rather than only the “paralegal” to ensure that a proper analysis of the matter is made. Individuals must be diligent in ensuring that their legal counsel is qualified and knowledgeable, especially in applications that will almost certainly result in the initiation of removal proceedings.