Asylum

The asylum process in the United States is a very thorough and in depth process. If you are interested in the asylum process or want to find out if the asylum process is right for you, please contact a skilled immigration attorney. Here is some basic information about the asylum process, who is eligible for asylum, and what is required to be successful in your asylum application.

In order to claim asylum, you must be physically present in the United States. You must also apply for asylum within one year of your last entry date into the US. Asylum can also be used as a defense while you are in removal proceedings. In order to claim asylum, you must have suffered or fear persecution for one of the following reasons:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Proving you have been persecuted or will be persecuted if you return to your home country is key to asylum proceedings. A lot of evidence and supporting documents will be needed to support your claims. Proof of imprisonment, kidnapping, physical abuse, harassment, threats, or acts of mass killing/genocide are all vital to asylum cases. These acts of persecution must also be connected to one or more of the five categories listed above.

Below is a brief outline of the typical timeline one can expect when claiming asylum affirmatively:

1) Arrive in the United States: In order to claim asylum in the US, you must be physically present in the United States. You cannot claim asylum in the US if you are not present here at the time.

2) Apply for Asylum: To apply for asylum you must complete form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, within one year of arriving in the US. There is no fee to fill out and file this form.

3) Background check and fingerprinting: Once you have submitted form I-589, USCIS will contact you to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) near you so that you can be fingerprinted. The fingerprints will be used to run a background check and security check.

4) Interview notice: About 21 days after you file form I-589, you should receive a notice for an interview with USCIS. The time it takes to receive your interview notice may be much longer in certain cases. The interview will be scheduled at a USCIS field office.

5) Interview: After USCIS received your I-589, you will be scheduled for an interview. At the interview, an asylum officer will discuss your application and will seek more information about why you are seeking asylum. You may bring an attorney as well as any family members seeking asylum with you. Any witnesses you may have should also attend the interview with you. If you cannot be interviewed in English, you must bring an interpreter with you. During the interview you will be asked questions about how you have suffered or fear persecution for one of the following reasons listed above.

6) Asylum officer reaches decision: After the interview, the asylum officer will make a decision about your asylum case. Once a decision has been made about your case, a supervisory officer will review the asylum officer's decision. Depending on the supervisory officer may review your case for additional review.

7) Applicant receives decision: About two weeks after your interview you should be able to receive your decision from the field office you interviewed at. Your application will either be accepted or denied. If denied, USCIS may refer your case to Immigration Court for removal proceedings if they determine you are not in the US legally.

For more information about the asylum process you should contact a skilled asylum immigration attorney.

Forms: I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal

Cost: There is no USCIS fee to file form I-589.

Note: The timeframe for completing the asylum process is just an estimate from USCIS. Individual circumstances of cases can cause delays or lengthen the process.

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