Dear Realtor,

As the political and socio-economic conditions worsen in Venezuela under the effects of President Nicolás Maduro and his socialist government, many Venezuelans are seeking to leave the country. What we’ve seen recently is that many Venezuelans are attempting to apply for political asylum in the United States. Some of these individuals have very valid reasons which make them eligible for an asylum claim, however many do not. Unfortunately, although claims of a shortage of food and medicine, and claims of escalated overall violence and criminal activity are reasons for Venezuelans to want to leave their country, these reasons do not meet the requirement of political asylum in the U.S. and these kinds of claims will be denied. The problem is that many Venezuelans are trying to use asylum as another visa category, as an alternative to a business visa, which it is not. Many Venezuelans see asylum as a right or a privilege and it is not.

To meet the eligibility criteria for political asylum in the U.S., you must first be inside the United States. You must be able to provide evidence that you have suffered persecutions or have a legitimate reason to fear persecution on the basis of your:

Race
Religion
Nationality
Membership in a particular social group
Political opinion

If the Asylee doesn’t pass the test of eligibility, they will be immediately placed into removal proceedings and deported. If they do pass the test, and are interviewed and granted asylum, permanent residency will typically follow in about a year. Asylees may include their spouse and unmarried children under age 21 on their asylum application, and they may eventually apply for work authorization as well.

When encountering asylum seeking clients, unless they have very strong evidence of eligibility, we typically refer them to a legal-aid charity.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on this or other legal issues.

Sincerely,

Don Gonzalez, Esq.