Immigration and Visa

How to Apply for Asylum ( Process and Requirement)

Every year, people who have been persecuted or who fear prosecution relocate to the United States in search of refuge. This may be because of race, religion, nationality, or belonging to a certain social group or political philosophy. If you are not a citizen of the United States and are physically present in the country, you can apply for asylum. Applying for asylum can be a tremendous process. In this guide, I will simplify the process of how to apply for asylum. Continue reading!

READ MORE: How To Seek Asylum Abroad

What are the steps in the asylum process?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for asylum in the US:

Step 1: Arrive in the USA

The first step to applying for asylum in the USA is that you must migrate there. You must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for asylum in the U.S.

Step 2: Apply for asylum

Within a year of arriving in the US, you must submit Form I-589. Form I-589 is an application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal and is to be submitted to USCIS (unless you qualify for an exception to the 1-year filing deadline).

By section 208(a)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you may lose your right to petition for asylum if you do not submit Form I-589 within a year of your arrival in the United States (INA).

Don’t send your Form I-589 with a completed FD-258 fingerprint card or a fingerprint fee. Your Form I-589 should be submitted without a fingerprint card attached. To know where to file your Form I-589, follow the instructions under the “Where to File” section on the Form I-589 page. To know about asylum eligibility, see the Asylum Eligibility and Applications page.

Step 3: Background/Security Checks and Fingerprinting

Before your appointment for fingerprinting at the ASC, you should read the ASC Appointment Notification and bring it with you. As an asylum seeker, you are not required to pay a fingerprinting cost. Your spouse and children must accompany you to your ASC appointment if you are also asking for asylum status for them and they are currently living with you in the country.

How to apply for asylum: Other steps include:

Step 4: Interview notice

An arrangement will be made for you to asylum officer for an interview at either a USCIS asylum office or a USCIS field office. Your interview location depends on where you live (also called a circuit ride location). Visit the USCIS Office page for more details about USCIS field and asylum offices. The time, date, and place of your asylum interview will be disclosed in your interview notification.

Step 5: Attend the interview

You are allowed to attend the interview with a lawyer or authorized representative. Your spouse and children who are requesting derivative asylum benefits can also come with you. The duration of the interview is usually one hour, though it may change depending on the circumstances. You must bring an interpreter if you are unable to continue with the interview in English.

Step 6: Find out the decision

Most times, you have to return to the asylum office to pick up the decision 2 weeks after the asylum officer interviewed you. The processing times may be longer if you:

  • Have a valid immigration status;
  • Were interviewed at the USCIS field office
  • Have a pending security check
  • Have a case that is under review by asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters.

Who can seek asylum?

Who can seek asylum? Anyone can apply for asylum. However, it is only for people who consider themselves at risk of life-threatening harm in their country of origin, or who are compelled to leave their country in search of safety in another country.

READ MORE: Cheap Business Class Flights In UK

Who determines asylum requests?

States set up their processes for examining and determining the status of asylum requests. The UNHCR is not formally a part of the asylum process in nations with national asylum procedures, but it may provide guidance and technical support.

Yet, there are several circumstances when the UNHCR may be the one reviewing asylum requests. This is applicable if a state does not have a fair and effective national asylum system in place or is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Restrictions on Applying for Asylum

Applying for asylum may not be possible if:

  • You did not submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, by the one-year deadline.
  • You had a prior claim for asylum rejected by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  • You can be deported to a safe third country by an agreement between the United States and other nations.

Do you need a lawyer to file for asylum?

Considering the complexity of the asylum application procedure and the attachment of significant supporting evidence, it is advisable to hire a lawyer. The cost of hiring a lawyer depends on several things such as:

  • the time and effort required in your case
  • The fee for a similar case in the city or area where you live, and any time constraints affecting your case.
  • The attorney’s experience and reputation.
READ MORE: Book a cheap flight to Pakistan in 7 steps

If you can’t afford a lawyer, you need to seek assistance from non-profit organizations.  There are charitable organizations in the United States that provide these services for free or at a reduced rate. To aid people, “nonprofit” organizations raise funds, primarily from individual contributors and foundations as opposed to the federal government of the United States. However, it is difficult to obtain funding if the organization represents undocumented immigrants, which most nonprofits cannot help but do.


About the author

Matthew Ogunwale

I am an amazing Content Writer and SEO Writer. I craft an informative and engaging content blog post that resonates with the audience of my clients.

Feel free to connect with me.