Ninth Circuit Demands Proof from Immigrants Seeking Asylum in Nevada

A decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has placed a heavier burden of proof on immigrants seeking to become legal permanent residents through an asylum hearing in Immigration Court. The Ninth Circuit’s decision will affect asylum claims made from most of the western United States, including the states of Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. It will also influence asylum petitions filed from Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, San Francisco and Northern California, some island territories including Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Asylum claims can be difficult to prove under any circumstances, because the applicant has to show a “credible fear” that returning to his or her home country would put them at risk of persecution, torture, or some other harm based on the immigrant’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political or religious beliefs. Building one of these cases can be a frightening experience, and many immigrants turn to the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer who has handled asylum cases before.

The new standard, established in the Ninth Circuit appeal of Singh v. Holder, confirms earlier decisions by a lower Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals which held that an Immigration Judge can deny an asylum application because of a lack of sufficient evidence, even if additional evidence was not requested. In Singh, the applicant only narrowly complied with the requirement that he file his claim for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. The Immigration Court determined that his testimony was not alone sufficient to establish the precise date he entered the United States without corroborating evidence. Thus, it held that he did not meet the standard of “clear and convincing evidence” that he had filed his petition within one year, and his application was denied.

Mr. Singh was not given an opportunity to provide additional proof of when he entered the United States. The Immigration Court ruled, and the BIA and Ninth Circuit agreed, that he should have submitted that additional proof at the same time he was providing his testimony. Because he did not present his strongest case from the beginning, his petition was denied.

This is a very technical decision, but it is illustrative for our readers and potential clients. It emphasizes the importance of having the guidance in this process, because an immigration lawyer with experience handling asylum claims is going to be best able to anticipate what forms of proof are going to be important in the case. The Singh decision raises the cost of trial and error in asylum cases, and we advise any immigrant who is considering an asylum claim to consult with an immigration attorney before beginning the process. In immigration law, the stakes are often too high to risk failure by not putting one’s strongest case forward the first time. For help making the strongest asylum case possible, please call us today for a free consultation.

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