Sharlene Sharmila Richards

by Sharlene Sharmila Richards, Immigration Lawyer
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Q: My asylum application is currently pending at the Asylum Office and it has been almost two years and I have not heard anything and not had my interview. I am very worried about my wife and child in my home country as they could be arrested at any time. What can I do about this?
A: You can check at the USCIS website at for a status update. Go to ‘Check Case Status’ and type your case number in the box. To find your case number, you will see this on the Filing Receipt under ‘Receipt Number’. Also, please write to the asylum office which has jurisdiction over your case and request that they expedite your case. You will need to provide them with evidence that there is danger to your spouse and your child back home and you are worried about the possible harm to them – the asylum office has the discretion to expedite your case for humanitarian reasons and to schedule you for the asylum interview as soon as they can.
Q: I wish to file for asylum and have completed the Form I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. Do I just complete the Form I-589 and sign it or do I need to include other documentation? I do not know what other documents to include with this application.
A: You may wish to include a sworn statement explaining in detail what happened in your home country which now makes you afraid to return to; you will also need to include copy of all your passport pages including visa and I-94, your birth certificate, your marriage certificate (if married), your children’s birth certificates (if you have children), an any other evidences in support of your application such as articles about the situation in your home country, recent country reports about conditions in your home country; any letters or affidavits which support your claim and also a passport photo for yourself and any other family member applying with you.
Q: I was granted asylum by the asylum office and I like to know how I can bring my wife and three minor children who are still in my home country.
A: You will need to complete Form I-730 Refugee / Asylee Relative Petition for each family member whom you need to bring to the United States. You will not be eligible to file this petition if you were granted status in the US as an asylee more than 2 years ago or if you became a naturalized U.S. Citizen prior to filing Form I-730. If you are already a US Citizen, you must file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative to petition for your spouse or children at any time.
Q: Is it true that once granted asylum, as an asylee I should not travel back to my home country?
A: Yes, that is correct. You have informed the US Government that you cannot return to your home country for fear of persecution there or that you have already been persecuted there and your asylum application was granted to give you the protection you sought from persecution in your home country. It is thus advisable to avoid all travel to your home country while you are holding asylee status or even once you have adjusted status to a permanent resident. Any travel to your home country could also be called into question when you apply to naturalize to become a US Citizen.
Q: I already have an asylum case pending with the asylum office. This is still pending. However, I wish to now adjust status through my US Citizen son who has already turned 21 years of age. Is it possible for me to go ahead and file for the adjustment?
A: Yes, you should go ahead and file for the adjustment of status to a permanent resident if you are now eligible to adjust. This means you can show legal entry to the United States, you have an immediate relative (in this case your US Citizens son over the age of 21 years old is your immediate relative) and there are no bars to your adjustment. You may request to withdraw your asylum application at any time if you no longer wish to proceed with the asylum application.
Q: I received asylee status one year ago and I wish to travel abroad for my honeymoon. The country I intend to travel is not my home country. However, I do not have a Passport as my passport was cancelled because I was persecuted for political reasons and my country’s Government cancelled my passport. I do not know what I need to do to be able to travel. Is there any particular Form which I need to complete?
Q: The asylum office did not grant my asylum application and they informed me that it will be referred to an immigration judge. What does this mean? Do I need to file for asylum again?
A: This means that your claim for asylum will be adjudicated by an immigration judge. You will get one more chance to present your case for asylum but it will be heard by the immigration judge at the immigration court. You will not be filing for asylum again but the judge will hear your present case. You may add new facts to your asylum case if circumstances have changed regarding your claim.

Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
My Bio
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.