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Is it important to have corroborating evidence in an asylum case?

Asylum cases are very difficult to win.  There are a lot of ways to make asylum cases even harder to win.  For instance, there are basically two types of asylum claims.  The first type of asylum claim is when a person is in the United States and makes an affirmative application for asylum.  This type of person would argue that if they were forced to return to their home country, they would face persecution based on their religion, their ethnicity or some other recognized distinction.  An asylum application would be decided at the closest asylum office.

For St. Louis asylum cases, the closest asylum office is in Chicago, Illinois.  The way it works here in Missouri and Southern Illinois is that the asylum office waits until it has a sufficient number of applications and then schedules all of the St. Louis asylum cases for the same week.  The interviews occur at the local USCIS office at 1222 Spruce Street.  The asylum officer interviews the applicant, inquires into the basis for the asylum claim and often spends a lot of time inquiring into past persecution.

If the asylum case is granted, the person is on a path to lawful permanent resident status.  But if asylum is denied, that is not necessarily the end of the case.  If someone has no basis other than the requested asylum to remain in the US, after the denial of the request, the person is placed in deportation/removal proceedings.  During these proceedings, the alien can request asylum as a defense to deportation.  That is, the person can ask an immigration judge to grant them asylum and to allow them to remain in the U.S.

Asylum as a defensive measure is also very difficult to achieve.  The DHS attorneys who are prosecuting the deportation case are very good at inquiring into the appropriateness of asylum.  One of their favorite arguments is that the asylum seeker lacks corroborating (supporting) evidence.  DHS argues that the immigration judge can't simply rely upon the word of the asylum seeker.

This is where working with an immigration lawyer who is experienced in asylum cases can make the difference between success and failure.  A good immigration attorney knows how to prepare a strong asylum case.  It is also very important to present the corroborating evidence early - like in the initial request for asylum - because if it is not submitted at the outset, the government sometimes argues that the new evidence conflicts somehow with the old evidence.  Getting evidence from independent 3rd party sources like the Red Cross, country reports and expert witnesses is crucial.  But even sworn testimony from family members or acquaintances can help boost the chances of success tremendously.

Like stated above, asyum cases are difficult to win.  Don't do anything early on to screw up your case. Make sure that you submit the strongest case possible at the earliest possible opportunity.

To contact our office to learn more about asylum, please call (314) 961-8200 or visit or our contact page.

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