Types of Asylum Cases

The majority of The Advocates for Human Rights' asylum cases fall into two main categories, Affirmative Cases and Removal Cases. We also handle cases for clients with appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Affirmative Cases

Affirmative cases involve:
• Involve clients who have not yet applied for asylum or had any contact with immigration services;
• Require that the asylum application be submitted to immigration services within one year of entry, although certain exceptions may be available;
• May take 6-12 months to complete and receive a decision;
• Are generally non-adversarial and similar to transactional work; and
• Are often the first type of asylum cases that volunteers handle.

Representing a client in an affirmative case involves:
• Working with the client to develop his or her story;
• Framing the client's story in the asylum application (form I-589) and affidavit
• Creating a file to support the claim for asylum by assembling documents from the client, independent human rights reports, and news articles;
• Preparing the client for an interview with an asylum officer at the Bloomington, MN immigration offices; and
• Attending the interview.

Once the client receives a decision, your commitment to the case is completed. However, many attorneys choose to continue working on the case if it is referred to the immigration court.

Removal Cases

The Advocates especially needs attorneys to volunteer to handle removal cases because it is more difficult for clients to represent themselves in a court setting than before an administrative agency.

Removal cases involve:
• Clients who apply affirmatively and are not granted asylum; therefore, their asylum claims are referred to the court for a de novo adjudication;
• Alternatively, the cases may involve clients who were detained by immigration services and are filing their first asylum applications in court;
• May take between 6-24 months to receive a decision;
• Removal cases are an excellent experience for attorneys with an interest or practice in litigation.

With a client in removal, you will be involved in:
• Representing the client in front of the immigration court;
• Attending both a master calendar hearing (the preliminary, scheduling hearing) as well as the individual hearing where testimony is heard and evidence examined;
• Working with your client to prepare additional evidence, witnesses, and testimony for submission in advance of the hearing; and 
• Representing your client during cross examination by counsel for the Department of Homeland Security.

Removal cases are an excellent experience for attorneys with an interest or practice in litigation. A removal case may take anywhere from six months to two years, depending on the court calendar and the length of time before an individual hearing is scheduled.