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Venezuelan Asylum Applicants in the United States Double Amid Venezuela’s Political and Economic Chaos

Venezuela’s ongoing political turmoil and near economic collapse have caused thousands of Venezuelans to flee to the United States to seek asylum protection.  United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that in the first three months of 2017, 8,301 Venezuelans sought asylum protection in the United States, compared to 3,507 asylum applicants in the same three months of 2016.  Based on those numbered, USCIS projects that this year’s applications will surpass last year’s 18,155 requests, when Venezuela surpassed China as the country with the most US asylum applicants.

An asylum applicant is a person who fled from his or her native country to the United States to seek protection because of a fear of persecution at home, due to race, political opinion, religion, nationality, or membership in what immigration law refers to as a “particular social group.”  Many Venezuelan asylum seekers have cited the extreme inflation, poverty, and rampant street crime.  Unfortunately, fears of economic collapse or street crime rarely, if ever, qualify one for asylum protection.  Should an applicant meet the substantive factual and legal requirements to qualify for asylum, the United States government grants humanitarian protection and will not deport the applicant from the United States.

Seeking asylum protection, like anything related to the American immigration system, is complicated.  The smallest error could cause the most devastating consequences.  Regardless of country or fear, it is essential that anyone seeking asylum protection or other forms of immigration protection, relief, or benefits, seeks the counsel of a competent and experienced immigration attorney.  If you have any questions or concerns about asylum protection or other immigration issues, please contact me at rglahoud@nmmlaw.com.