Asylum — Domestic Violence

The law addressing domestic violence and asylum is complex and subject to different interpretations. There is a lot of controversy about whether or not women are entitled to asylum if they have been subject to domestic violence. The San Francisco Asylum Office has a generous outlook on the claims. The San Francisco Immigration Court is much challenging.

Required Elements

  1. Establish police do not protect victims of domestic violence;
  2. Establish lack of shelters for victims of domestic violence;
  3. Establish that your abuser has not been punished for his behavior;
  4. Establish that your culture permits/allows/encourages domestic violence;
  5. Establish physical injuries if possible;
  6. Establish that you will not be safe from your abuser if you relocate within your native country;
  7. Establish you feared for your life if you remained with abuser.

Eligibility and Process

Initial Requirements:

  • File within one year of arrival in the U.S. (limited exceptions exist to this rule)
  • Proof of identity
  • No prior deportations
  • No drug convictions
  • Specific harm directed at individual – not available based on general and non-specific violence, or violent conditions in general; applicant must have been targeted.
  • For San Francisco applicants, must reside within SF Bay are jurisdiction.


  • Takes approximately 4 months for attorney to prepare
  • Approximately three weeks between date of submission and date of interview at asylum office.
  • One interview at asylum office of approximately 3-4 hours duration.
  • Decision issued 10 days after interview.

How case is prepared:

  • Most essential part of applicant’s claim is personal affidavit.
  • Attorney and client meet upwards 8-10 times for lengthy interviews, developing client’s claim.
  • Application requires through understanding and presentation of cultural and historical aspects surrounding applicant’s claim. Applicant and attorney review affidavit together thoroughly, ensuring veracity.

Supporting materials

“What if I don’t have any proof?” is most common concern. My response: “Your personal statement is primary, secondary are police reports, doctor’s statements, verification of persecution.”

The principal requirement is credibility. Honesty is essential.

Secondary materials include any all of the following: letters from witnesses, police reports, doctor’s reports, psychological reports, newspaper articles from your home country, articles from human rights publications, downloaded articles from internet.

Entire packet, consisting of application itself, affidavit, identity documents and supporting materials, is sent by mail to asylum office. An appointment is issued about three weeks later.