Immigrants First - Asulum and Convention Against Torture

Legal Services


Asylum & Convention Against Torture

Our Firm has extensive experience in successfully handling complex and cutting-edge refugee, asylum, and Convention Against Torture claims. Lisa Johnson-Firth, the principal of the Immigrants First started her immigration law career handling asylum claims while she was still practicing corporate law at an international law firm. Her first case was for a Turkish woman and her two children fleeing severe domestic violence in Turkey. Ms. Johnson-Firth won the case, despite the challenge that domestic violence claims were not, especially ten years ago, recognized as a basis for asylum.

Since her first case, she has successfully represented clients from around the world seeking refuge in the United States, and she has developed a strong background in complex asylum claims involving social groups.

In addition to meeting our client’s legal needs, our Firm’s holistic approach to working with traumatized clients enables them to regain a sense of empowerment. Sensitivity to our clients’ spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical needs builds trust in themselves and in their relationship with us, resulting in dramatically better case preparation.

Refugee & Asylum Claims. A refugee is defined as any person outside his or her country of nationality, or, in the case of a person having no nationality, his or her last habitual residence, who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

An asylee is a person who meets the above definition of a refugee but who is either physically present in the United States or is at a port of entry at the time he or she seeks refuge.

Having refugee or asylum status in the United States entitles you to work, eventually seek a green card, and petition for your spouse and children, as well as many other benefits. However, the requirements for asylum and the scrutiny of petitions have become much more stringent, including that an asylum claim must be filed within one year of entry into the United States (with limited exception).

Convention Against Torture (CAT). Making a claim under the Convention Against Torture follows the same application procedure as asylum, except that relief for withholding of removal under CAT does not entitle the successful petitioner to apply for a green card or petition for relatives.

To be considered for withholding of removal under CAT, the petitioner must prove that it is more likely than not he or she will be subject to torture upon removal. Torture is defined as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or her or third person information or a confession, punishing him or her for an act he or she has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or her or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind…”
Credibility of the petitioner and thorough preparation of the application is paramount in asylum and CAT petitions. There are many notarios, and even lawyers, who take advantage of asylum seekers and submit bogus asylum claims that end in denial. It is critical to the success of your case that you work with immigration counsel that has experience in asylum cases and is willing to invest the time needed to prepare the case well