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Asylum

How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

Because Form I-589 provides you with limited space to give your answers, you should attach a separate statement:-

Your written statement (declaration) should explain in detail-

# why you left your home country, and

# why you are afraid to return there.

# Be sure to provide information about your race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, tribal and clan membership, or political affiliations, especially if you are applying for asylum due to having been hurt or threatened because of one of those factors.

Your statement should help the Asylum Officer (or the Immigration Judge) better understand why you are applying for asylum.

Describe specific incidents and dates, and include as much detail as you can remember. Do not simply write general statements. If you cannot remember an exact date, state that you are estimating it. Focus on your persecution and/or fear of future persecution. Also discuss your family and close friends if they have been persecuted.

Your declaration may be several pages long, depending on how many facts are relevant to your asylum claim. The more detailed, relevent facts you are able to include, the stronger your application will be.

What Personal Documents to Include:-

Attaching personal documents will make your application stronger, especially documents that show:

(1) your identity,

(2) membership in any relevant groups on account of which you had been persecuted, and

(3) evidence of your persecution.

To show your identity, include a copy of your passport, or other official documents such as your birth certificate, national identity card, or driver’s license. The U.S. government expects that you can prove your identity, so make sure to provide some documentation.

If possible, make sure to attach documents showing your membership in any group on account of which you claim persecution (for example, membership cards in political or religious groups).

If available, also include materials that confirm what had happened to you in your home country, such as: photographs that show how you were harmed; threatening letters; or police or medical reports referring to the harm you had sustained.

Types of Witness and Expert Statements to Attach:-

You can provide several different types of statements (affidavits, declarations, or letters) to support your claim. They can come from several sources:

(1) fact witnesses, such as friends and family who had seen how you were persecuted (or at least saw the effects it had on you);

(2) a medical and/or a psychological expert who evaluated you in the U.S. for signs of prior persecution; and

(3) a country-condition expert (who is very familiar with human rights conditions in your country).

If possible, provide one or more fact-witness statement. You can talk to your witness first, and then draft a declaration (based on what that witness knows personally) for the witness to sign. Include statements only if they are detailed, focus on facts relevant to your asylum claim, and corroborate your statement. Although most asylum applicants who provide witness statements get them from friends of family, statements from authority figures are even more credible (for example, from local clergy, professors, or government officials). Make sure to save all evidence (such as envelopes and fax cover sheets) that show how you obtained your witness statements.

If you have physical signs of your persecution (such as scars, signs of female genital mutilation, or physical impairments due to your abuse), you should see a medical expert, who can examine you and then prepare a report. Immigrant assistance groups and lawyers often have lists of doctors who will do this for free.

Similarly, if you suffer emotional problems as a result of harm you suffered in your country (such as depression, insomnia, or anxiety), see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Again, ask an immigration assistance group or a lawyer for free recommendations. The psychological expert will talk to you about your emotional problems and about your past, and then prepare a report for you to submit with your I-589.

Also try to include an affidavit from an expert on the conditions in your country. Again, ask an immigrant-assistance group or a lawyer for help finding one who will do it for free or at a reduced fee. Such experts are usually university professors or human rights activists familiar with human rights abuses in your country. The expert will meet with you, and then prepare a report that discusses the conditions in your country, and how your story is believable given those conditions.

Newspaper Articles:-

# If possible, include any articles that help to explain what had happened to you. The more specific they are to you, the better.

# For example, newspaper articles with a picture of you at a political rally or mentioning persecution of members of your religious organization or social group are very useful. Helpful articles show that your story is consistent with what independent sources have said is occurring in your country.

# You may submit articles from newspapers, books, or online sources (if they are published on official or otherwise credible websites). These should be more specific than the “Human Rights Reports” explained below. Many applicants do not have any such articles, and rely on the more general “Human Rights Reports” only. You can still obtain asylum without these documents, as long as you have a strong legal claim and you are credible.

Human Rights Reports:-

Attach reports about human rights conditions in your home country for the preceding two or three years (and make sure to include the years(s) during which you were persecuted).

Information about country conditions can be found on the following websites (look for links to your specific country):

•Department of State: http://www.state.gov

•Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org

•Amnesty International: http://amnesty.org

Even though they are long, include the entire reports. Simply highlight or underline (or otherwise point out) the information that is relevant to your claim.

By, Shoaibur Rahman Shoaib, LL.M Advocate

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