If you seek asylum at the US/Mexican Border: What you should know


1.  You will most likely be stopped by border agents/immigration officers.

2.  Remain calm even if they try to intimidate you and threaten to deport you.

3.  The first thing you should say to an American officer – even in your own language – is that you are afraid to go back to your country because of persecution and that you want to apply for asylum.

4. If you are put in detention, even after having said that, don’t worry because it is your right to apply for asylum, even in detention.

5.  Stay very firm because it is possible that some of the immigration officers/border agents and law enforcement persons, will tell you that it is not possible to request asylum under the Trump government. DO NOT BELIEVE THAT and do not sign a paper that you agree to leave the US by your own agreement (voluntary agreement). Say that you need to see a lawyer first.

6.  When you are in detention, you should be told that you will be given a "credible fear interview." This is an interview with an immigration officer to explain in more details why you want to apply for asylum.

7.  You will need to explain that either you have been persecuted and had to leave your country or that if you return to your country, there is a very strong possibility that you will be arrested, tortured or persecuted.

8.  If for some reason you are put into what is called "expedited removal," which means deportation, you can still ask for asylum and you should have the right to get a "credible fear interview." It is very scary to do so, especially if you don’t speak good English, but try to be as firm as possible.

9.  If you pass the “credible fear interview” then you will be taken out of the expedited removal list and you will be given a date to go to immigration court, where you will have to demonstrate to the judge the reasons why you are seeking asylum. The judge will then decide whether you can be granted asylum, and if not, you have the right to appeal to a higher court.


Travel ban 2: What does it mean for asylum seekers

The second version of the travel ban is currently blocked by two federal courts. Here are three important points to know for asylum seekers:

1.  The second travel ban, unlike the first travel ban, does not prevent persons from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, who are already here in the US, to apply for asylum.

2.  They also can still apply for work authorization, social security numbers, and banks accounts.

3.  However, if you have been granted asylum and plan to bring your family members, make sure to consult with a lawyer, if you come from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

At the moment, the second travel ban remains blocked, and it is not yet clear of what is the next step. We will make sure to keep you informed with any new update, especially on how it affects asylum seekers.

New Work Permit Extensions

Good news:  When your work permit expires, it is now automatically extended for 180 days past the date of expiration on your work permit card.

You still have to apply for renewal, but this extension will help make sure that you are not left without work authorization while you wait for your new work permit card. 

If your employer/boss has any questions about this, or asks you for proof of this extension, here is what you should do:

1.  Provide them with  a copy of the receipt that shows that you have requested a renewal of your work permit.

2.  Show them the letter (see below) that your work permit is valid for six months while you are awaiting for your renewed work permit card.

This letter can also be found on the UCSIC website at https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/automatic-employment-authorization-document-ead-extension

Situation Report: What Trump's Executive Order Means for Asylum Seekers

What is the latest news on the Immigration Executive Order?


Donald Trump and his government were NOT successful in their appeal to restore the travel ban and  halt the entry of refugees.  That means that all the measures in the original executive order are NOW FROZEN for the time being.

Donald Trump is now saying that he is considering to introduce a NEW executive order and we will keep you informed of what it means.  Our next Asylum Legal Meeting will be on March 8 where immigration attorney, Caitlin Steinke will provide an update on the situation.  

Join us for this meeting  and for more information on the meeting contact ellie@rifnyc.org


See below a summary of how the original Executive Order  which is now frozen  would have  impacted asylum seekers:

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF the Executive Order ON the asylum process?

  1. It means that the asylum process is NOT suspended: you can still apply for asylum, either with the help of an attorney or on your own.

  2. Asylum interviews are still taking place but as you may know it takes 2-3 years to have an interview date.

  3. You can still apply for a work permit 150 days after the application has been sent. Work permits are now valid for two years.

How would the Executive Order affect asylum seekers from the seven countries on the list?

The Executive Order would affect asylum seekers from the seven countries singled out in the Executive Order: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia & Sudan

  • Asylum seekers from the seven countries can still apply for asylum

  • Their cases are still being processed by the asylum office in the regular way

  • Interviews are still be scheduled

  • However, when the order was in place, asylum officers were told that they would not be not allowed to make final decisions in cases concerning people from the seven countries until they receive further guidance

  • This could possibly extend to work permit applications for asylum seekers from the seven countries as well.

How would the Executive Order affect the families of Asylum Seekers?

  • The asylum program continues to grant asylum to the spouses and children of people whose asylum cases are granted.
  • These family members –called derivatives– are automatically granted asylum if they are inside the United States.

  • Family members outside the United States can apply for a visa to join the principal asylee in the US.

  • However, derivatives who are citizens from the seven countries will not be granted visas to come to the us United States as long as the travel ban is in place (90 days).

Your Asylum Application does not change with Trump election.


Advise from Cristina Velez, Immigration attorney at HIV Law Project:

If you have a pending application for asylum, the case will proceed normally.  Trump's election does not change the law and does not change the due process rights we all have as persons present in the United States.  Here is some recent know your rights information.


More updated information will be forthcoming.  

"Trump and LGBT Asylum" by David Mariner

Thousands of LGBTQ individuals come to the United States every year seeking political asylum. They come from countries where they face violence and persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
How will Donald Trump as President impact LGBT asylum seekers?  Maria Blacque-Belair From RIF (Refugee and Immigrant Fund) consulted with some immigration attorneys and here are some initial thoughts she is sharing with clients in the short term.