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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Notes of Asylum Interview Can Be Obtained

     In Immigration Court, the attorneys representing the Dept. of Homeland Security ask questions to determine whether a foreign national deserves asylum.  These attorneys are overworked and do not have the time to review applications and all of the supporting documents.  As a result, they rely heavily on the notes taken by the Asylum Officer, who is the person who interviewed the applicant on behalf of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).
Blank Notepad 3     Therefore, the notes of the Asylum Officer are an important part of preparing for the Immigration Court hearing.
     A settlement agreement was reached in a lawsuit challenging CIS's policy of withholding Asylum Officer interview notes from FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) responses. Under the agreement, CIS must instruct employees involved in processing FOIA requests that asylum officer interview notes generally are to be produced.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mental Illness -- Will the Rich be Eligible for Asylum?

     Immigration has usually denied asylum to persons who are harmed due to their wealth.  The reasoning is that if they are harmed because they are rich, tomorrow they may be poor.  Unlike being a victim of domestic violence, being rich is not a fundamental trait to any group.
File:Prescription drugs.jpg     Recently, the Board of Immigration Appeals gave asylum to a man although part of his claim was based on his financial situation.  I wrote an article about this significant change in asylum law.  Please read this and other asylum-related articles in AVVO that I have posted over the years.
     For a consultation about how this may affect your case, call the Florida office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.  We are located in Broward county.

Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 Will Be Better Year Than 2013 for Asylum

     Figures show that 2014 is projected to be an even better year for foreign nationals applying for relief from removal.  Nationwide study results are in from TRAC Immigration.  Relief from removal includes asylum, withholding of removal, and residency -- any way that foreign nationals are allowed to remain in this country. Click here to review the results.
     This is the kind of information that helps clients of Broward firm Blandon Law.  Please call (954) 385-0157 if we can put our expertise to work for you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

     When applicants fail to appear for their asylum interviews with Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the agency will either refer them to an immigration judge if they are not in lawful immigration status or will close the case if they are.  When applicants seek to reschedule their asylum interview more than 45 days after the failure to appear, they must demonstrate exceptional circumstances to account for the failure.
Don't Be Late!     On October 17, 2013, Chief John Lafferty of the Asylum Division issued a memo explaining what qualifies as exceptional circumstances.  Importantly, the memo explains that CIS will use a totality of the circumstances approach.  In other words, the stronger the underlying claim and the greater the likelihood of harm if the case is not reopened, the more likely that CIS will agree to the rescheduling of the interview even after the 45 days.
     Interestingly, ineffective assistance of counsel and fraud by notarios was listed as the most common ground for failure to appear.  If you, or someone you know, needs to apply for asylum with a trusted and experienced professional, call the Florida law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Call Now to Prepare Your Work Permit Application by December 3, 2013

     Starting December 3, 2013, asylum applicants -- and their family members -- may apply for employment authorization once the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) remands the case back to the Immigration Court.  Applicants appeal Immigration Judge denials to the BIA, which returns the case to Immigration Court if they agree that the case should not have been denied.
Team work Stock Photography     More importantly, foreigners who have their cases with the Immigration Court will be able to file for asylum sooner.  Because a request for a work permit cannot be filed until the application has been pending for 150 days, the sooner the better.  They can file their asylum petition with the Immigration Court immediately, without having to wait for a hearing date.  This is an enormous benefit because, in some parts of the country, asylum applicants have to wait months for an initial hearing.
     Call the Florida law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157 to apply for a work permit based on asylum.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Experience for your Resume: Volunteer at a Refugee Camp

     The United Nations Volunteer program connects professionals to international programs where their skills are needed.  Volunteers are skilled professionals with at least two years of working experience. They work in more than 130 countries and 80 per cent come from developing countries.  In addition to promoting peace throughout the world, volunteers gain invaluable experience and grow their network.
     Volunteers have worked as part of the UNHCR team in numerous operations, including Afghanistan, the Balkans, Colombia, Ecuador, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.  The story of a volunteer working in Venezuela can be found here.   In Florida, the law office of Blandon Law helps asylees and refugees with their cases before the Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as the Immigration Court.  Call for a consultation at (954) 385-0157.  In addition, scholarships are available to asylees.  For more information on that, click here to the web site of Asylees As Authors.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Filing After the One Year Deadline

     Foreigners can file an asylum application even if they have been in the United States more than one year.  In that situation, one of two exceptions must apply:
      (1) the existence of changed circumstances which materially affect the applicant's eligibility for asylum OR 
      (2) extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing the application.

    Changed circumstances include the following:
(A) Changes in conditions in the applicant's country of nationality;
             (B) Changes in the applicant's circumstances that materially affect the applicant's eligibility for asylum, including changes in applicable U.S. law and activities the applicant becomes involved in outside the home country that place the applicant at risk; OR
             (C) In the case of someone who had previously been included as a dependent in another person's pending asylum application, the loss of the spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal applicant through marriage, divorce, death, or attainment of age 21.

     Extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing include applicants who are minors when the arrive in the U.S., or persons who believe their application was filed by a notary (or attorney) but learn after the first year of being here that the application was not filed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

U.S. Admits Almost 70,000 Refugees in 2013

     The Department of State announced recently that it brought almost 70,000 refugees to safety this year.  That number is the legal limit on refugees which are allowed to be admitted in that category.  It "is closer to the authorized ceiling than in any year since 1980," indicated the press release, which is available by clicking here.
     This achievement highlights the commitment of President Obama's administration to make the country more diverse and to meet international obligations to help victims of persecution.
     For more information on the process for asylum and refugee applicants, please call the Broward law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.  We specialize in helping asylees and their families.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shutdown Results in Lengthy Delays for Asylum Cases in Court

 Image Ref: 41-09-3 - Road Closed Sign, Viewed 6698 times    While the government shutdown is in effect, immigration court cases are delayed according to a recent article by The Washington Post.  Read it by clicking here.  Those who petitioned for asylum and foreigners who are not detained are considered non-essential matters.  As a result, even when the shutdown ends and immigration courts reopen completely, the judges will need to work on a substantial backlog of cases.
     "Court hearings or other procedures for any immigrant who is in federal custody will also continue on schedule, and the Board of Immigration Appeals will hear requests for emergency relief from deportation as well as appeals for detained immigrants, according to the Justice Department."
     Before, during and after filing a case, the Florida law firm of Blandon Law assists its clients by keeping them informed.  If we can help you, please call (954) 385-0157.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Do NOT need to provide DIRECT PROOF of nexus

     In asylum cases, foreign nationals need to demonstrate that the harm they suffered (or fear that they will suffer) is on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group.  This is known as the nexus, or connection, between the harm and the reason for the harm.
     Recently,  a federal court ruled that it was wrong to require an asylum applicant to provide direct proof of the nexus.  In other words, the federal judges ruled that the Immigration Judge and  the Board of Immigration Appeals were wrong when they denied asylum to the man from Nepal.
      It is important to hire an experienced immigration lawyer who knows when Immigration Judges make mistakes.  Only someone who knows the law, including the recent cases, can appeal the case to a higher authority and maybe win.  That's why if you are considering asylum, you should call the Weston, Florida office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.  The author is certified by the state's association of lawyers as an immigration expert.
      In this case, the Fifth Circuit repeated what is known to experienced attorneys:  asylum applicants need to provide proof -- either direct OR CIRCUMSTANTIAL -- that the persons causing the harm know about the applicants' political opinion and will likely harm them because of it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scholarships for Asylees and Refugees

     Over 45 years ago, my parents fled from Cuba without a penny to their name to escape the Communist government there.  Everything that I am or ever will be, I owe in large part to them.  That is why it is with great pleasure that I announce the creation of a non-profit to help foreign nationals achieve their educational goals: Asylees as Authors.  Because scholarships helped me get to college, university and law school, they are now available to asylees and refugees.
     The Weston law firm of Blandon Law works hard to help foreign nationals to obtain asylum.  Likewise, I am starting this non-profit to let asylees and refugees obtain higher education.  The scholarships -- $5,000 for first place and $1,000 for second place -- are awarded based on an annual short story contest.
     For the method of submitting your entry, and other information, go to the link here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Right to Testify in Immigration Court

     Foreigners who are applying for asylum before an Immigration Judge are given time to explain what happened in their home countries.  They are also usually allowed to present all documents that they think might demonstrate that they will be harmed in their home country.  That's what an asylum hearing is all about.
      If an Immigration Judge denies the case without allowing the foreigner the opportunity to testify, the case will be reversed on appeal.  In other words, if this happens, you should immediately contact the Weston immigration law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.  There is a 30 day deadline to file an appeal.
     In the case of Oshodi v. Holder, decided just last month (August 2013), the Ninth Circuit ruled that asylum applicants have a constitutional right to testify.  The Immigration Judge in that case wrongfully limited the foreigner's words to his responses to cross-examination.
     We look forward to helping you fulfill your immigration goals.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Judges Cannot Deny Based on Credibility Without Saying WHY Documents Are Available

     The REAL ID Act, a law which was passed in 2005, included parts that related to immigration.  On a positive note, it eliminated the 10,000 annual limit for asylees to become legal permanent residents.  As a result, a wait for a green card that used to take over 10 years became a one year wait.
     Unfortunately, the law also works against asylum applicants by requiring that they provide all documents that are "reasonably obtainable."  Applicants can only rely on their own testimony if they cannot provide the evidence.  For example, if an applicant filed a police report against someone who attacked her in her home country, she may be required to provide the police report.
      Immigration Judges use this law to deny asylum whenever applicants do not provide documentary proof.  Recently, the Second Circuit ruled that this was wrong.  It held that Immigration Judges must explain WHY the documents are reasonably available.
      If your asylum case was denied for credibility, please call the Weston law office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157 for a possible motion to reopen.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

To Delay Immigration Reform, GOP Falsely Claims Mexicans "Rushing" to Seek Asylum at Border

     Immigration reform -- already approved by the Senate -- would help the U.S. economy, according to several studies.  So, to scare voters, the Republicans in the House of Representatives created a falsehood about Mexicans illegally rushing into this country. 
     The Republican Representative from Alabama (a state known for its stellar civil rights history), Jeff Sessions, said that the House should not pass any immigration legislation until the current administration shows "its willingness to confront and fix this problem."  Rep. Sessions apparently did not read the memo about President Obama having the largest border patrol force in the history of the U.S. 
     The number of Mexicans seeking asylum at the southern border is only about 30 per day, compared with the roughly 170,000 travelers who cross that border LEGALLY each day.
     Although the amount of Mexican asylum applicants has doubled due to the violent rampages of the drug cartel, Chinese nationals file more asylum cases by far.  Part of the reason for this is that the chance of a Mexican citizen winning an asylum claim is less than ten percent.  For the recent article, click to this link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Credible Fear Interviews: No Longer Completed Face-to-Face

      There's a new development that will harm asylum applicants.  Many have problems with authority, misunderstand the importance of questions they are asked, and do not hire attorneys at the beginning of their case.  In-person interviews by government officers build trust so that the foreigner can express what really happened to them abroad.
      When foreign nationals are detained but fear return to their homeland, an Asylum Officer must interview them.  During that interview, which usually begins with a phone call, the Asylum Officer decides whether the foreign nationals' fear is credible, or valid.  This is known as a Credible Fear Interview.
     In the past, Asylum Officer were required to conduct in-person or video-conference interviews when they felt that the foreign nationals did not have a valid fear of harm if returned to their homeland.  That changed on June 4, 2013.
     Placing a need to avoid delays in processing above a need to give foreign nationals the benefit of an in-person interview, the entire interview will be completed on the phone.   In order to help your detained friend or family member with a potential asylum case, please call the Weston office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Asylum AFTER Being Deported

     Re-entering the United States after being deported is usually a mistake.  The consequences include arrest and losing rights to several ways of legally obtaining status. 
     An argument can be made, however, that ASYLUM IS STILL AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO RETURN to the United States after a deportation.  Although the Department of Homeland Security regularly denies asylum to those with a prior removal order, foreigners who are willing to appeal the decision to the federal courts may be able to get asylum.
      That is what the Florida law firm of Blandon Law does for asylum clients:  use the law to get results.  For those with prior deportation orders, we argue that the law plainly states that "any alien" -- regardless of their legal status -- is eligible for asylum.
      To see if we can help you with your asylum case, please call the Weston law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Freedom and Safety for Mexican Victim of Extortion

     Foreigners facing an Immigration Judge, pleading to remain in the United States, have several defenses they can present.  The one most often discussed in the Asylee's Daughter blog is asylum, protection for those harmed on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
     Another option for those who might be murdered in their homeland, however, is withholding of removal.  In a recent case in Texas, a Mexican national won his freedom and safety.  In his country, his family was murdered for refusing to pay extortion demands from a gang.  The news story is here.
      He was detained for a year by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security. 
     For help with your asylum case, call the Broward county law firm of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.  The author represents clients throughout the United States.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Syria, China, Venezuela -- Reopen Asylum Even if Ordered Deported, Even if Other Motions Denied

     The Board of Immigration Appeals just ruled that foreign nationals can reopen their case EVEN IF THEY WERE ORDERED DEPORTED and EVEN if they filed other motions to reopen.  This was discussed in the case Matter of J-G-, available by clicking here.
      This is true so long as the situations in the homeland country have worsened.  For example, if a Syrian national had her asylum case denied as a member of a political party and the conditions in Syria have worsened for that party, she can reopen her case.  On second (or third or fourth) try, she might win asylum.
      Similarly, if the conditions in the country have worsened for someone of a particular religion (or non-religious secularism), the foreign national may reopen the case.
      Working with an immigration expert is extremely important because these reopened asylum cases are won based on the law and research.  There are no more court hearings or interviews.  This author is certified by the association of the attorneys of Florida as an immigration expert.
      To discuss the strategy for your asylum success, call the Weston law office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Detained Asylum Applicant Wins On Appeal to Board of Immigration Appeals

     In an unpublished decision, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) strongly critiqued an  Immigration Judge's denial of asylum. The judge had listed a number of reasons as to why the applicant was not credible.  The applicant testified to beatings, arrests, and sexual abuse by police and persons senior to him, on account of his sexual orientation. 
     After an asylum case is denied, an applicant has 30 days to appeal it to the BIA.  As in that case, an appeal is vital because another person may understand the applicant's view better than the Immigration Judge who decided the matter the first time. 
      Importantly, in this unpublished opinion (which is available to attorneys but not the public), the BIA held that the applicant -- who was detained -- WAS credible and that the Immigration Judge was incorrect.  Moreover, the applicant established past persecution based on his testimony.  As a result, the BIA ordered he be granted relief from deportation. 
     To see how the Blandon Law can help you with your asylum case, including using unpublished decisions, call the Florida office at (954) 385-0157.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Asylum Applicants in Immigration Court Can Get Work Permits Faster

     Due to the settlement of a class action lawsuit, after November 2013, it will be faster for defensive asylum applicants to obtain a work permit.  A defensive asylum case is one which is pending before an Immigration Judge.
     The regulations do not allow an asylum application to be "filed" other than at a hearing before a judge.  As a result of "the asylum clock," an applicant cannot usually request employment authorization for many month (or years).  At the end of this year, asylum applications will be "lodged" with a court clerk.  This means either sent in the mail or presented in person.
      Once an asylum application is "lodged" and the required 150 days have elapsed, the applicant can request a work permit.  More information is available here.
     For professional help on asylum and work permits call a Board-certified immigration expert at the Weston law office of Blandon Law.  The number is 954-385-0157.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Venezuela Reportedly Offers Asylum to Snowden

     According to a CNN story available here, Venezuela offered political asylum to Edward Snowden.  As many know, Snowden is a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.  He leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance programs to the press.
     Despite the offer, asylum is NOT available to persons who have allegedly committed serious non-political crimes such as espionage or treason.
     For a strategy that might help your asylum case, scheduled a consultation with the Weston immigration office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Same-sex Partners Can Enter the United States as Refugees

     Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed that same-sex married partners can now become refugees.  Because the Supreme Court recently ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, same-sex spouses of asylees can enter the United States.  There are three steps to this process:

     1.  One partner must have been granted asylum in the United States
     2.  That partner has to petition the other partner, who lives abroad
     3.  Their marriage must be recognized in the country (or U.S. state) where they were married
     In addition, same-sex partners can also be included in the asylum application if both of them are in the United States when one applies for this benefit.
     To view Secretary Kerry's Statement on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, please visit this link.  For asylum advice from a Florida Bar board-certified immigration attorney, call the Weston office of Blandon Law at (954) 385-0157.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mobile App to Report Racial Profiling and Abuses Against Immigrants

          The American Civil Liberties Union came out with a bilingual app to help immigrants in Arizona report abuses by law enforcement agents.  Under SB1070, law enforcement agents are detaining persons based on racial profiling.  To learn more, click here.
     The app includes a call button that puts users in touch with the ACLU Arizona chapter and also includes basic guidance for persons stopped in their car, on the street, or at home.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Protecting Non-Believers: Article in Virginia Journal of International Law

Asylum - Black Royalty Free Stock Images - Image: 23875599      Jack Dolance II has written about the persecution of non-believers.  In his law journal article, published in the Virginia Journal of International Law and available by clicking here, Mr. Dolance explains both asylum law and the constitutional right to religious freedom.
     As I do in my article, which was this month's cover story in VOICE magazine, Mr. Dolance concludes that "Asylum law must not dance to the tune of a majoritarian religious orthodoxy."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Article is Cover Story of Magazine for Immigration Attorneys

     My article on "Asylum for Atheists" is the cover story for this month's issue of VOICE.  That is the national magazine for immigration attorneys throughout the United States.  You can read the full article by clicking to the Blandon Law Facebook page here.
     Persons labeled as atheists have been targeted since Roman times.  I believe immigration attorneys should use every tool at their disposal -- including asylum law and the Convention Against to Torture -- to protect persons who have different beliefs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Must Prove Past Harm Occurred or Future Harm Likely to Occur

      To obtain asylum, foreign nationals must demonstrate that they suffered past harm or are more likely than not to suffer harm in the future if returned to their countries.  This balancing of interests occurs often in the law, which is why the symbol is a woman holding a balance.  Which side weighs more, likely to be harmed or not likely to be harmed?
      Blandon Law organizes evidence including country condition reports to tip the scales in favor of our clients.
Image Ref: 31-24-7 - Statue of Lady Justice, The Old Bailey, London, England, Viewed 66199 times  In a recent case -- Sirbu v. Holder -- the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reminded an immigration judge of the correct standard of proof.  As demonstrated by that opinion, even experienced judges sometimes get confused.  Foreign nationals do NOT need to provide evidence that "compels a finding" that they suffered past harm.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Get a Paper Copy of Your I-94

Image Ref: 04-09-17 - Passport, Viewed 9084 times       On April 30, 2013, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped providing paper Form I-94s, the white or green form which shows the date and length of authorized stay.  Now, many foreign nationals will only get a stamp in their passport.
      Blandon Law STRONGLY recommends that all foreign nationals go to the website and print out an electronic record of their admission.  This way, foreigners will be able to prove they applied for asylum within one year after arrival.  In addition, having a paper printout may make it easier to get other benefits including a driver's license and a Social Security number.  Both of those government agencies -- Division of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration -- are still requiring PAPER proof of admission despite the change in CBP's policy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dual Citizens CANNOT Obtain Asylum

Picture of Flags - Free Pictures -     The Board of Immigration Appeals recently issued a case recently stating that persons who MAY have dual citizenship are not eligible for asylum. In that case, the foreigner was a Venezuelan and his father was a citizen of Spain.  The applicant was not a citizen of Spain.  Because the government showed proof that the asylum applicant is eligible to become a citizen of Spain himself (and he had no fear of harm there), however, his asylum was denied.
     This is a drastic change from the way the law was formerly interpreted.  Blandon Law has won asylum cases for dual citizens (Venezuelan and Italian) in the past, but that seems more difficult now.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Despite Improvement in Country Condition, Asylum is Possible

     Another unpublished decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals confirmed that asylum can be won even if the conditions in the homeland improve.  Blandon Law can read these decisions because our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  When other attorneys win asylum cases, we know about it.  That improves the chance of winning for our clients.
Immigration Reform     In this case, the foreign national was from Liberia.  His entire family was murdered when he was 13 years old.  Although the political situation in Liberia has changed, and the applicant no longer fears returning to his country, asylum was granted because of the SEVERITY of the past harm he suffered.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reform Needed in Detention of Asylees

      A new report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom finds that the government is detaining asylum seekers under inappropriate conditions.  The full report and other information can be found by clicking here.   Importantly, the detention is contrary to the reforms announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
     Blandon Law currently has a client detained in Georgia who is an internationally-recognized human rights defender.  Although the Service has determined that she has a credible fear if returned to her homeland, the government has not released her.  This report is just the type of information Blandon Law will use to obtain her release.

Monday, April 15, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Asylum Clock Lawsuit Settled

     The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have agreed to settle a nationwide class action lawsuit.  It was filed to challenge the government's denial of work authorization to asylum seekers who have been waiting six months or more for a decision on their asylum applications.
     If approved by a federal judge, this agreement will help ensure that asylum seekers, who have fled persecution in their home countries, are not unlawfully prevented from working and supporting their families while the government decides their cases.
     To read the full press release, click here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Were You Denied Asylum Because of the One-Year Deadline?

     Foreign nationals who wish to seek asylum in the United States generally must file their applications within one year after arrival.  If they do not, the Citizenship and Immigration Service may refer the case to an Immigration Court Judge to see if an exception to that deadline applies.
dead, icon, note, line, list, calendar
     As part of the comprehensive immigration reform efforts this year, the advocacy group Human Rights First is trying to change that law.  If you were denied asylum due to the deadline -- and your case was exceptionally strong otherwise -- please contact the group.  More information about them is available by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sue to Get the Notes of the Asylum Interview

paper, school, white, background, learn      The notes taken by the Asylum Officer are extremely important, but rarely made public to the foreign national.  If the asylum case is denied with the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), the government attorneys rely heavily on those notes to prove their case.  For example, if the Asylum Officer wrote that the foreign national does not remember specific dates about events in 2009, the government attorney will probably ask about those events during the Immigration Court hearing.
     It is important for foreign nationals, and their attorneys, to see those Asylum Officer notes because they are so important to the outcome of the court hearing -- and the success of the asylum case.  CIS, when it turns over the foreign nationals' files (in response to a Freedom of Information Act request), however, rarely provides those notes.    
    So, let's sue them.  Foreign nationals can sue the government on an individual basis if they are denied this important information.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Best Way to Win Even if Conditions in Country Have Improved

     Usually, asylum applicants find themselves without the chance for an approval if the conditions in their countries improve.  For example, those harmed by the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru might have a very difficult time obtaining asylum because that terrorist group is no longer as pervasive as it once was.
 silhouette, woman, tree, landscape   
     Fortunately, if foreign nationals suffered harm in the past, there are TWO ways that they still may be eligible for protection in the United States.  This was highlighted by a recent unpublished Board of Immigration Appeals case about a Romanian citizen.  The first way is if the foreign national demonstrates "compelling reasons" for being unwilling to return to the home country.  This is due to the severity of the past harm suffered; the foreign national may have depression, anxiety and emotional suffering about returning. 
     The other way to obtain asylum, even if the situation in the homeland has improved, is if there is a reasonable possibility that the foreign national will suffer "other serious harm" if returned.  Note, there does not have to be a likelihood of harm, just a reasonable possibility.  Also importantly, the harm does not have to be based on a protected ground.  Reports that the general population suffers from poverty or civil strife would be sufficient.
    For the best shot at a life in the U.S., talk to an immigration attorney about your personal circumstances.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Police: must be useless, not just inefficient

      Foreign nationals must demonstrate that the government of their countries are UNABLE or UNWILLING to control the perpetrators.  This is a basic requirement for an asylum applicant to prove, according to a recent decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Click here to read it.
 1262266     To win asylum, foreigners must demonstrate that they cannot be protected from suffering.  In the case before the Eighth Circuit, the Peruvian police arrested suspects believed to have attacked the asylum applicant, but were not able to convict them.  Unfortunately, even ineffective or corrupt police forces are seen -- by our government -- as proof that foreign nationals can be protected by their own governments.  Thus, the asylum case was denied.
     Fortunately, where the police force is completely unable to protect its citizens, asylum can be granted.  Such was the case for many Colombians.  The Department of State reports -- which Blandon Law used as proof in Immigration Court -- specifically stated that the government could not protect its citizens against the hyper-armed FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Judges Must Use Evidence When Determining Truth

     Before an asylum case can be denied as not credible, the Immigration Judges must explain their denial without relying on stereotypes or the country report by the Department of State.
     This month, in March 2013, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reminded Immigration Judges that they must rely on evidence.  Click here for the full opinion.  The Eleventh Circuit is the court just below the Supreme Court;  it hears appeals on asylum cases after they have been denied by both Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals.
     In this case, the Immigration Judge denied the asylum case of a Chinese woman, in part, because it "didn't seem plausible" to him.  The Eleventh Circuit correctly reminded Immigration Judges that -- when they decide whether foreign nationals are telling the truth -- that decision MUST be based on evidence.  An Immigration Judge's "bald assertion that a given account is implausible does not necessarily make it so."
     The Eleventh Circuit also reminded Immigration Judges that they cannot rely BLINDLY on State Department reports.  The attorneys for the Dept. of Homeland Security often state that an asylum applicant's story is not true because it is inconsistent with their official report.  This case shows that common practice should FAIL in court. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two Ways the Death of Chavez Might Help Asylees

     Lately, Venezuelans ask me how the changes in the government might impact their chances of obtaining asylum in the United States.  They are specifically referring to the death of President Hugo Chavez and the elections that are expected soon.
     My answer is either it will affect your case dramatically or not at all.
Hugo Chavez by Communist Party of Great Britain(Marxist-Leninist)  If Venezuela's new government is nothing more than same old, same old, the U.S. government is not likely to view the death as a changed country condition.  On the other hand, if the death of President Chavez becomes the first in a series of episodes which mark deteriorating country conditions, foreign nationals may benefit in two ways.
     First, applicants may apply AFTER the one-year deadline if they can demonstrate that a changed country condition materially effects eligibility for filing.  For example, if Venezuelans in the U.S. receive death threats because of a belief that they did not appropriately mourn the president's death (by closing their Venezuelan businesses abroad for the week, let's say), these persons should now file an asylum claim based on imputed political opinion.  This is so even if the Venezuelans have been in the U.S. for over a year.
     The second -- and perhaps most dramatic way -- that changed country conditions affect asylum cases is that denied applications may have a new chance at victory.  This occurs when the prior country conditions were not so harmful that the applicant could demonstrate a well-founded fear of harm, but now -- due to changes in the country -- fear of harm is reasonable.  In this case, Blandon Law attorneys file a Motion to Reopen based on this new evidence.  When the case is reopened, we present the new evidence and allow the Immigration Judge to rule.  Asylum cases are usually won after motions to reopen because the judge has already demonstrated a predisposition to believing the applicant, which was demonstrated by granting the motion.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

18 Year Filing Delay: No Problem

      In an unpublished asylum case, the Board of Immigration Appeals held that a foreign national could file for asylum despite an 18-year filing delay.  Normally, asylum cases should be filed within one year after entry into the United States. 
      There are many exceptions to the filing deadline, however.  At Blandon Law, we have also won cases long after the filing deadline.  The longest delay was 16 years, based on the foreign national not even knowing she was Colombian until she tried to apply for a drivers license.  Her parents brought her into the U.S. when she was less than one year old and did not tell her the truth.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

LGBT, Native Americans Are Protected by VAWA

      The Violence Against Women Act finally cleared in Congress and will be signed by President Obama shortly.  An article in Huff Post Politics details the political fight that resulted in this law which protects victims of domestic violence.
      The two new groups that will be protected under the law include Native Americans and members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.  Immigrant men and women will also receive protections under VAWA, as before. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Long Wait Time to Asylum Decision

      Asylum cases are often resolved (favorably) by Immigration Judges at individual court hearings.  Sadly, however, applicants must wait an average of TWENTY months before their case is solved according to a recent article in The Washington Post.  That's 20 months without seeing family members left behind in the homeland and 20 months without knowing whether the future involves buying a home or moving to another country.
Clock Face Time Stock Image      Reducing the wait time is one part of the comprehensive immigration reform package which will be proposed this year.  In the meantime, I urge applicants to wisely use the wait time to gather evidence such as affidavits from persons abroad or homeland newspaper articles about others who experienced similar harm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Read About Approvals on Facebook

     This blog provides information about how the law protects foreigners throughout the United States.  It includes news articles about immigration judges and problems in other countries.
      When our clients win asylum, however, those victories are immediately posted on Blandon Law's Facebook page.  Anonymously, of course. 
      Like the page if you want to know about our experience.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Detention IS Persecution

       In order to win an asylum case, foreigners must prove that they were harmed on account of specific grounds.  Surprisingly, not all harm qualifies.  The harm must rise to a level known as PERSECUTION.  Because that term is not neatly defined in the law, immigration judges and asylum officers can interpret it differently.
     The Eleventh Circuit, which controls cases in Florida, held several years ago that attempted murder (someone shooting at foreigners) was persecution.  This month, the Eleventh Circuit expanded the definition of persecution even more.  BY LAW, foreigners who are detained against their will, slapped and threatened with other abuse are persecuted and eligible for asylum.
Handcuff Royalty Free Stock Photos

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Florida Driver's Licenses for Asylum Applicants

     The web site of the Florida's Division of Motor Vehicles has a lengthy table of documents required by foreigners wishing to get a drivers license in the state.  Those who are APPLYING for asylum need to take their valid passport, I-94 showing entry date, and the receipt (I-797) issued by Immigration showing that the application was received.
      Those granted asylum by an immigration judge need to take the original (and a copy) of the order.  Asylees are considered immigrants and generally have an easier time renewing their license when it expires. 
      Family members who entered as refugees (including spouses or children of those granted asylum) need to show their valid passport and I-94 card with refugee stamp.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Journalists Threatened in Venezuela

     Human Rights Watch posted an article recently about how the government of President Hugo Chavez is persecuting journalists and other media professionals.  The administration is trying to halt public speech concerning his failing health and the irregularities of his inauguration. 
      Because publication of opposing viewpoints is an example of political opinion, journalists can apply for asylum in the United States if they fear harm in Venezuela.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Increasing number of LGBT foreigners win asylum

     This article in the Advocate confirms what I am seeing.  More and more approvals of asylum cases for LGBT persons who are persecuted in their home countries because of their sexual identity.

  Rainbow Flag Waves in Sun against Blue Sky

Monday, January 28, 2013

Free Asylum eBook Available Now

Free information is available to anyone who sends their request via e-mail to  The eBook "Nine Things to Know Before Filing an Asylum Application" is the compilation of over ten years of experience and success in this niche of immigration law.  It was written by Elizabeth Blandon, Esq., an expert certified by the Florida Bar.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Family Members Who Cannot Appear at Interview

Spouses and children of asylees who cannot appear at interviews will NOT have their cases denied.  This is because of a just-announced proposed class action settlement.  Instead, those cases will be closed until the family member can appear at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

India's Women are Treated as "Property"

This article reminded me of two asylum victories.  The TIME writer explains the endemic harm to Indian women.  In our cases, the male clients were members of a minority religion.  They correctly feared their wives would be raped or killed if they were deported.  Those victories prove the point:  asylees can be from large, democratic nations.

If you know someone from India who fears returning, have them call (954) 385-0157 to discuss their options.  There are deadlines to file an asylum application.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Historic Rise in Asylum Approvals

     An annual report tracking the success of asylum claims was recently released.  Click here to see it.  The odds of a case being denied reached a historic LOW last year. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Atheists Can Win Asylum -- See Video

My fifth Video is now on YouTube. The information explains how atheists or agnostics can win asylum in the United States.  If they win asylum, they receive a green card.  These cases are difficult, but can be won based on political opinion and religion.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

       A recent Sun Sentinel article highlights Judge Rex Ford, the principal judge who hears cases at the Broward Transitional Center detention facility.  Through a mixture of luck and preparation, I have obtained approvals from Judge Ford on the cases presented to him.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Protecting Women

Asylum is available to protect women who lived in a country where the authorities do not protect them BECAUSE they are women. 

Because this is an evolving area of the law, attorneys at Blandon Law often refer to the library of the UNHCR's Refworld.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

National Asylee 800 Number No Longer in Service

The phone number listed on asylum grant letters is no longer in service.  All information for asylees -- including programs, benefits and services -- is listed on the website of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Click here to access that information.

General Frequently Asked Questions

Call today to schedule your immigration consultation

954-385-0157 or email: