Green Cards for Unsuccessful Asylum Applicants

Several months ago, I wrote an article about a firm of relief called “Suspension of Deportation” (Attorney Robert L. Reeves Offers New Hope for TNT’s , January 27- February 2,1995). As I explained in that article, Filipinos of good moral character who have been living in the United States for at least 7 years can have their deportation suspended” and be granted permanent residency if they can show the Immigration Judge that their deportation would cause either them and/or their family members in the United States extreme hardship. At the time, the article was intended to give hope of becoming lawful permanent residents. Since I wrote that article, asylum applicants have become another group which can greatly benefit from Suspension of Deportation. It has been increasingly clear that asylum applications made by Filipinos are not looked upon favorably by the INS; virtually all of these asylum applications are being denied. Under the new asylum regulations which become effective earlier this year, unsuccessful asylum applicants are automatically put in deportation proceedings. Unless they are eligible for some other form of relief, the vast majority of these unfortunate Filipinos will be ordered deported back to the Philippines.

However, many of these unsuccessful asylum applicants are also eligible for Suspension of Deportation. Morever, even if the Immigration Judge does not believe that conditions in the Philippines warrant a grant of asylum, the judge may consider those same conditions as favorable factors tending to show extreme hardship in support of suspension application. In other words, an unsuccessful asylum application can help build a good case fro Suspension of Deportation.

Of course, Suspension of Deportation is not something that should be pursed without the assistance of an experienced Immigration attorney. Ten or even fifteen years of legal experience does not give an attorney the necessary expertise to successfully present a Suspension of Deportation application unless a substantial portion of these ten or fifteen years were spent exclusively practicing Immigration law. A Suspension of Deportation applications is one of the most complex immigration applications to present and proper preparation and presentation are absolutely crucial to the success of a suspension application. Recently, after granting Suspension of deportation to one of my clients, an Immigration Judge told me that the briefs and supporting documents I had filed before the hearing had made his decision easy. I was obviously flattered by the judge’s remarks. However, his remarks also reminded me that there are no “miracles” in Immigration Law and that there us no substitute for hard work and experience.

Although Suspension of Deportation can be Godsend to many asylum applicants, this form of relief should not be pursued lightly. Anyone considering Suspension of Deportation as an option should seek the advice of a qualified immigration professional.