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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland


Asylum is a form of protection against deportation for refugees to the United States. It is not automatic and the burden of proof is on you when you fill out the application to prove you meet the criteria. Every year thousands of people flee their country of origin because they have been persecuted or fear persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinions. Maryland asylum attorney Anthony A. Fatemi and his experienced legal team can help you meet your burden of proof if you are seeking refugee status or asylum on any of these grounds.

Currently, you can obtain asylum through an affirmative, non-adversarial process whether or not you have entered the country legally, so long as you haven’t been arrested by the Department of Homeland Security and placed into removal proceedings. You can obtain asylum defensively if you have been denied asylum through the affirmative process or have been threatened with removal proceedings.

The Affirmative Process for Obtaining Asylum

This process requires that you be physically present in the country. It does not matter how you got to Maryland or what your status is, but you must apply within one year of the date of your last arrival in the United States, unless you can demonstrate that you had changed or extraordinary circumstances that materially affected your asylum eligibility, and that caused a delay. You must also show that you filed within a reasonable time under the circumstances.

The first step in this process is to submit a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is important that you have a Maryland asylum attorney well-versed in asylum matters, and specifically asylum cases, to help you fill out this application. If the application isn’t approved by USCIS and you do not have a legal immigration status, the government will issue a Notice to Appear and refer your case to an immigration judge to review the matter de novo. “De novo” means the judge will review your case without deferring to the decision by USCIS.

Referral to the U.S. Immigration Courts

If you have been referred to an immigration court for deportation proceedings and a final determination on your asylum application, you will have an opportunity to renew your petition or apply for a withholding of removal. Immigration rules are strict and complicated, and frequently include testimony, multiple witnesses, and evidence. Furthermore, your success depends largely on which Maryland federal immigration judge you get. A 2007 study published by the Stanford Law Review explained that asylum grant rates vary significantly by judge and the location of the court.

The Baltimore Immigration Court is one of the best courts in which you can have your asylum case heard, with a 60.1 percent asylum approval rate. However, there are a number of factors that can still make it a difficult place to go unrepresented. The number of immigration cases (not just asylum) pending before Baltimore Immigration Court is increasing steadily. Through the first six months of 2010, there were 5,342 pending cases under the court’s jurisdiction. By contrast, there were only 4,159 pending cases under its jurisdiction in 2005 and only 1,570 cases in 2000. Dealing with the backlog in the immigration process on top of the adversarial nature of the proceedings can be a harrowing experience. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this difficult court process.

Defensive Asylum Process

Sometimes individuals are placed into removal proceedings because they were caught within the United States or by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a port of entry without the appropriate documentation or in violation of their immigration status. If this is your situation, you can use a defensive asylum process.

Immigration judges hear defensive asylum cases in adversarial proceedings. The judge hears arguments from the individual who hopes for asylum and from the United States government, represented by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney.

After hearing arguments the judge decides whether you are eligible for asylum. If you are not eligible, the judge will determine whether you are eligible for another form of relief from deportation. Both the individual and the United States can appeal within 30 days of the judge’s decision.

Appealing a Denial of an Asylum Petition

If your asylum petition has been rejected and you have been denied asylum by a judge because you failed to meet the one-year statutory period, you may still be able to pursue an appeal. For example, the law will take into consideration any changed circumstances in your home country after your arrival in the United States. Other excuses for a delayed application might be extraordinary circumstances that made it difficult to meet the deadline or your status as a minor when you entered the country.

The consequences of being denied asylum and possibly being deported back to the government or group who persecuted you can be devastating. Statistics show that those refugees with attorney representation during the asylum process experience success six more times often than those who go unrepresented in this process. The office of Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC has a legal team with experience helping refugees and those seeking asylum in the state of Maryland to obtain protection from the United States government. Contact us today (301) 519-2801 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
"Mr. Fatemi help with our accident case and did a really good job. I appreciate all his hard work" - I. Jose
"Thanks to the lawyer and his team, I was able to receive medical treatment because of my accident and they took care of the rest. Very happy with my reward and in the way they handled my case; very professionally. Thank you." E. Wilfredo
"Mr. Fatemi and his team is excellent. I had a very good experience with my divorce and immigration cases here. Excellent service; they kept updating me with the progress of my case and best advice. They always returned my messages on the same day. Mr. Fatemi and Mariah are awesome people! I can’t imagine having anybody else work on my case. Thank you!" S. Patel