I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
Loans for Asylum Seekers
Resettling in a new country can be daunting, especially if you are an asylum seeker. A lot of the challenges asylum seekers face is related to not being allowed to work until the asylum application is approved. This can cause immense financial stress when there is a heap of resettling costs that need to be paid. This is not to mention your family’s basic necessities that need to be covered, as well as legal fees you might be worrying about.
If the financial stress is getting the better of you, consider loans for asylum seekers. Below we take a look at how this works and why a loan for asylum seekers could be a good idea.
What is Asylum?
Asylum is when you come to the United States and are granted legal protection because of a legitimate fear of persecution preventing you from going back to your home country.
There are two types of asylum in the U.S.:
- Affirmative Asylum
- Defensive Asylum
Affirmative asylum is when you are already in the U.S. and you apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status or how you got to the U.S.
Defensive asylum is when removal proceedings have already been initiated against you (to remove you from the U.S.) and you apply for asylum as a defense to such removal proceedings. With defensive asylum, you would have appeared before an immigration judge due to immigration violations or you trying to enter the U.S. without proper documentation.
Once you have been granted asylum, you are allowed to live and work in the U.S. You can even travel out of the country and return.
If you are in the U.S. seeking asylum, you probably have quite a few things to worry about. One of these things will certainly be the cost involved in resettling in a new country, not to mention the actual cost of applying for asylum and potential legal fees you’ll face.
When you move to a new country, you need to find a new house, set up your utilities and possibly buy a new car. You might also want to go for classes such as English lessons to sharpen your skills and improve your chances of getting a job.
You might not be able to get a job as soon as your asylum application is granted and you won’t be allowed to work in the U.S. until your application is approved. This can cause a financial gap where you need to keep yourself afloat and pay for living expenses and basic necessities while you wait to get a job.
On top of all of this, you might need to incur additional cost when applying for asylum. You might also be facing legal charges if you are applying for defensive asylum or want to consult an attorney to help you with the asylum application process.
Asylum Application Process and Legal Fees
If you are applying for asylum through the affirmative asylum process, you can apply for asylum by filing a Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal). This form is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must file your Form I-589 within one year of arriving in the U.S. (although certain exceptions do apply).
Once your application has been received, the USCIS will acknowledge receipt and send you a notice to visit your nearest application support center to get your fingerprints taken. You won’t have to pay any fingerprint fee.
Next, you will receive an interview notice that provides the details of your interview with an asylum officer. You are allowed to bring an attorney or accredited representative to the interview. If you are not able to do the interview in English, you will also need to bring an interpreter. You can even bring witnesses to testify on your behalf.
The asylum officer will make a determination on your eligibility and a supervisory asylum officer will review the decision to make sure it is in accordance with the law. You will, in most cases, be able to pick up the decision at the asylum office within two weeks, unless one of the longer processing cases are applicable.
It is advisable to make use of an attorney when applying for asylum as there are quite a few hoops you need to jump through to get your application approved. The legal fees associated with an asylum application will depend completely on the lawyer you use and the complexities of your application.
Each lawyer charges their own hourly rate depending on experience, location, etc. The number of hours that will need to go into your case will also depend 100% on the nature of your case and how complex it is.
It is, therefore, very difficult to determine beforehand exactly what your legal fees for an application will be. What you can bargain on, however, is that it will most likely not be a cheap exercise. It is not unusual for private lawyers to charge anything between $4,000 and $7,000 for a normal affirmative asylum application.
Personal Loans to Help With Resettlement and Legal Fees
If the cost of resettling and applying for asylum seem overwhelming when compared to your current financial position or you need some extra money to pay for your attorney fees, you can apply for a personal loan to help you out.
There are lenders out there who will offer loans for asylum seekers in need. It is quick and easy to apply for loans for asylum seekers, you just need to follow the steps below.
1. Submit an Application
Your first step will be to complete an application and submit it. This can be done online in most cases. Once you have submitted your application, you should receive an update on your application quite soon.
2. Receive an Offer
Once your documents have been received and verified, and your loan application has been approved, the lender will send you documentation (often a promissory note) to sign. Once you’ve signed, the money will be transferred to you. Depending on the lender, the money will be available for your use between 24 hours and one week later.
3. Start Making Payments
Once you have received the money you can start using it. All that is left to do is to make the required payments. Most lenders allow you to set up autopay on your account which will schedule automatic payments to be made on your loan.
Watch out for prepayment or late payment penalties. Make sure you pay on time, and if prepayment penalties are applicable, don’t pay more than your required repayment amount every month.
Are there Auto Loans for Asylum Seekers?
There are lots of reasons an asylum seeker might need a car in the U.S. Maybe you want to become an Uber driver? Maybe you found a job that’s not so close to your residence? Mobility is often tied to employability, which means in a lot of cases, if you can’t get around, you can’t provide for your family.
Asylum seekers in the U.S. may have a difficult time taking out an auto loan with a traditional lender. Just like with visa holders and immigrants, banks are hesitant to lend to asylums seekers because there are no guarantees that borrower will remain in the U.S. for the duration of the loan period.
Luckily, private loans are a viable means of getting a car while you’re in the U.S.
How to Get an Auto Loan as an Asylum Seeker in the U.S.
One of the easiest (and most likely) ways an asylum seeker can get a loan for a car in the U.S. is by taking out a personal loan. Personal loans are collateral-free loans that can be taken out for virtually any reason. To take out a personal loan for a car in the U.S., simply:
- Meet a lender’s eligibility criteria
- Apply with the lender
- Provide the necessary documentation for your loan
- Get a decision
If approved for your loan, you could have the funds for your vehicle in a few as 2 business days. Just be sure to get your U.S. driver’s license (or equivalent document) before you drive!
If you want to apply for asylum, don’t let legal fees prevent you from getting good advice and ensuring your application gets approved. You also don’t need to stress about meeting your family’s basic needs or covering your resettling costs while you wait for your application to be approved. Applying for a loan for asylum seekers could be a viable solution to help get you on your feet until you can find more steady work.