The Isolation of the Asylum Applicant
Everyone feels alone. Despite the peaceful clackety clack of my keyboard or the occasional hum of a passing car, I enjoy interruptions to my solitude. Its either a human voice during a conference or my dog gnawing a chew toy. Both make me smile.
By contrast, the isolation of asylum applicants is deeply profound. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free file their applications with the government and may not get permission to remain permanently until a decade later. Until they receive asylum approvals, asylum applicants generally cannot travel internationally. For that decade, they are isolated from their families and the friends they grew up with.
How Does Marrying After Filing Asylum Work?
When an asylum applicant marries, for example, a foreign-born marrying a US citizen, I recommend that the asylum case remain open until the foreign-born applicant obtains the green card. With green card in hand, they can they withdraw the asylum application.
When an asylum applicant marries another foreign-born person, they can at that point – even years after filing the asylum application – add the wife or husband to their case. If the asylum applicant wins asylum, they both get asylee status and they are both eligible to apply for legal permanent residency (green card) one year after the asylum approval.
Living Together is Not Marriage for the I-589 of Asylum
For the spouse to win asylum, they must be married legally. I lived with someone and thought it a relationship worthy of a marriage. Better even because we respected each other’s choice to remain independent. That was a mistake. Perhaps, I think when I remember his smile. Perhaps not a mistake, I think when I remember that we broke up not once or twice but at least three times. What I do know is that winning asylum as a derivative spouse requires a legal commitment, a marriage certificate. If such a paper cures the dis-ease of isolation, too, all the better.
Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.