Can I visit my home country after I receive asylum but before I get my US citizenship?
Very interesting thing happened recently. I was talking to a colleague about situations where people are granted asylum in the United States and they get their Green Card and then they go back and visit their home country.
And I was wondering to myself, what happens in those situations?
Because when you apply for asylum, you’re telling the United States government under oath that you fear persecution in your home country, that if you go back to your home country, something bad’s going to happen, you’re going to get tortured or jailed or beaten or beheaded or killed or any horrible thing you can think of because of some aspect about yourself that you cannot change.
So, when you claim asylum, you’re basically burning that bridge.
You are not going to be able to go back to that home country.
You’re not going to be able to go see family or for whatever reason.
Remember, you are swearing under oath that you would be persecuted if you went back home.
And if you are granted asylum, what you do go back before or after you get your US citizenship?
So we had that conversation in the morning.
Later, in the afternoon, I met with a man from a Middle Eastern country and he had received asylum in the United States through the US Asylum Office.
The man later obtained a Green Card.
Incredibly, after that, he went back to his home country and married someone.
Not only that, he then spent almost half of the following five years back in the home country, the home country that he swore that he could never go back to!
When I was talking to him, he said he had lots of good reasons for spending so much time in the home country.
This man had been back 11 times to his home country.
He wanted for me to say it was okay for him to apply for a citizenship.
He asked this even though he had not even been in the U.S. for half the time for the last five years.
This behavior was in clear violation of the halftime rule which says that you have to be in the United States for at least half the time plus one day in order to apply for citizenship
So, it was a total mess. I got a little bit worked up. I actually ended up yelling at him because he was not listening to me and he wasn’t making sense and he’d made a lot of bad decisions.
I mean, to think that he applied for asylum and he then went back to his home country 11 times seemed to me absurd.
And then it even got worse because he said, “Well Jim, I only went back to this one safe area of my country. I couldn’t go back to the area that I was from.”
Well, of course that’s part of the asylum process. When you apply for asylum, they ask, “Well, could you live safely anywhere in your home country?”
But he said, “Oh yeah, Jim, you’re right. I did tell them that I couldn’t even go back to the safe area that I actually ended up visiting.”
So, the lesson here is, if you obtain asylum in the United States, don’t go back to your home country. B
Because if you do it before you get your citizenship, I think it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get your citizenship.
I think they could revoke your Green Card and try to put you in removal proceedings for having lied.
Here, you have someone who swore under oath that he could not go back to his home country, that he needed asylum, but then he went back 11 times.
Even if he had received his citizenship, I could see USCIS say, “Look, we gave you asylum in the United States and you got a Green Card based on that and you even got your citizenship based on that, but you’ve been going back to your home country for the last three years every year and it looks like you’re living there fine and dandy. So we think you lied during your asylum process. We’re going to take away your citizenship and we’re going to come after your Green Card and we’re going to deport you.”
Now, I think the chances of that are rather remote, but why give them that ammunition? Why give them that chance?
So, long and the short of it is, if you apply for asylum and you say that you can’t go back to your home country because bad things are going to happen to you, in your mind you have to be prepared to never go back.
And you can’t be cute, you can’t be clever, you can’t come to me with reasons for all your 11 visits to your home country because I’m going to get upset.
And if I’m getting upset, that’s because I know USCIS is going to get upset and I’m just trying to protect you.
So don’t make those kinds of mistakes.
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