Depending on the facts of a given case, an individual may file either an affirmative or defensive asylum application. An affirmative asylum case begins by filing Form I-589, and after the form is received, an individual will be interviewed by an asylum officer. To file this form, an individual must have been in Florida or anywhere else in the United States within a year of doing so.
After meeting with the officer, the case will either be approved or sent to an immigration judge. A defensive asylum application is filed once a person is in the midst of removal proceedings. A judge will hear arguments from both Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as from the immigrant or the immigrant's attorney. The judge will either grant asylum, look for another way to keep the individual in the country or order the individual to be removed from the country.
One of the key differences between an affirmative and defensive asylum case is that defensive cases are adversarial in nature. Another key difference is that interpreters are provided in a defensive asylum proceeding whereas individuals must provide their own while meeting with an officer. If a person qualifies for a credible fear interview, only the defensive asylum method is available to pursue.
Individuals who are applying for asylum may benefit from having an attorney. If the applicant does not speak English, the attorney could help them better understand what is being asked of them during the asylum process. Legal counsel could also make it easier to communicate with an asylum officer or judge.