Are Asylum Officers Attorneys? Know the Difference

There are a lot of misconceptions towards asylum officers and asylum attorneys. One of which can be if officers are attorney themselves. However, one can be an asylum officer and an asylum attorney if, and only if, the officer practised Law and is licensed.

An asylum is a form of protection to entities that are threatened by their country and seeks safety blanket in the United States – given that they meet the definition and criteria of a refugee. This means it takes a lot of practice, book and academic wise, to be able to defend the seeker. To differentiate an asylum officer and an attorney, here’s what you should know.

What is an Asylum Officer?

An Asylum Officer is the ones who arbitrate an asylum application including supporting evidence and documentation; this means they are responsible in determining and making a formal judgment whether the seeker can be allowed to apply for asylum. They are also the one who houses interviews with the seeker.

Aside from asylum protection interviews and reviewing applications, asylum officers are also responsible for research. They search for appropriate information provided by the Office of International Affairs and Department of State, interpreting it to be able to apply it towards the specific case of the seeker.

They also do their part to make sure to run a background check on law enforcement databases and other records to identify individuals who may be considered a national threat and those who have criminal activities.

Bottom line is that Asylum Officers are the ones who are accountable for making sure that every asylum seeker is not a threat to the country and is genuinely seeking help.

What is Asylum Attorneys?

Since seeking asylum is practically secondary to inability and unwillingness to return home due to fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality and other socioeconomic factors, it is best to seek for an asylum lawyer to help weigh in the chances of being granted asylum.

Asylum Attorneys provide seekers with the legal services they need to file in their behalf and represent them through the legal process. When it comes to seeking asylum, the seeker is required to file within a year of entry in the United States.

The filing process is also a part of the attorney’s services – this is depending on if the seeker is affirmative or defensive. An Affirmative Asylum means that the seeker is already in the United States with ideally a valid visa. On the other hand, a Defensive Asylum is for those who are outside the country or do not have any valid visa to enter the U.S. In both cases, an asylum attorney can help throughout the filing process up to the legal court.

Asylum works on a pattern regardless if the application is for affirmative or defensive. It will always start with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the filing process and commonly ends up in the legal courtroom for the final decision: to be granted or rejected.

Overall, an asylum attorney helps you behind the scenes. They are the ones who can assist you from filing up to the legal representation. They offer the services you need that can give you a chance to be granted asylum.


Given the following job factors between asylum officers and asylum attorneys, it is clear that both roles differ from each other – from the scope of work down to the services they offer. However, both of them are significant in making a potential asylee feel safe and at peace. For more information, contact

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