Immigation Office of Peter G. Smith

ph: 410-889-5540



Asylum and Refugee Status

You have suffered "persecution" b/c of race, religion, nationality or political beliefs.

The Basics

You must have suffered persecution by government officials, not private individuals. You need to file your claim within one year of entry into the US. Exceptions to the one year rule include an extraordinary personal reason or "changed country conditions" in your native land.

You cannot have a serious criminal background.

If you win your Asylum claim, your immediate family members get the same status as you.

You need to document your claim as thoroughly as possible. You need to give credible witness testimony before either an asylum officer or immigration judge.

The Nuts and Bolts

The written evidence and record you present to the asylum officer or immigration judge is arguably more important than your oral testimony. This record needs to include an affidavit from you, background evidence on country conditions in your homeland, and any related police reports, press articles, medical records, photos, etc. that will support your claim.

The organization and selection of this evidence is very important

Asylum officers and judges hear lies and false stories every day, so they are on the lookout for "cooked" and fraudulent cases. Meritless asylum claims before an immigration judge and un-credible testimony may hurt your chances for other forms of immigration relief.

In the end, please realize that the lawyer does not tell your story. You do. How well you tell your story and how credibly you sound is often the difference between winning and losing.

If an immigration judge denies your case, it may be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and you may be allowed to stay in the US until a final determination is made.


Refugees seeking asylum in the USA should use an experienced immigration lawyer.