What is Asylum?

Asylum is a form of relief and protection available to foreign nationals who have been persecuted or have a well-found fear of future persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, if they were to return to their home country or country of last habitual residence.

Who can apply for asylum?

Foreign nationals who are arriving or already in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status, can apply for asylum.

Is there any deadline to apply for asylum?

Generally foreign nationals must apply for asylum within one year since they last entered to the U.S. They may be excepted for the one year filing requirement if they can prove (1) changed circumstances in their home country affecting their eligibility, or (2) extraordinary circumstances related to their delay in filing.

Are there different paths to apply for asylum?

There are two ways to obtain asylum status in the United States: the affirmative process and defensive process. The affirmative process refers to applicants who are in legal status and not in removal proceedings. Applicants simply file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal with USCIS. There is no filing fee required. USCIS will send a notice for biometrics appointment to the applicant and later schedule them for the asylum interview.

A defensive application refers to applicants being in removal proceedings in immigration court.

What are the key elements officers look for at the asylum interview?

Asylum officers are trained to illicit key information that is “material” to the applicants claim for asylum. They look for credibility and consistence of the applicants’ testimony and experience during the interview.

Can one apply for work authorization with the asylum application?

No. One can only apply for employment authorization after 150 days after the asylum application has been field and the USCIS has not made a decision on the case.

Can one be barred from applying for or being granted asylum?

One may be barred from applying for asylum if he or she previously applied for asylum and was denied by an immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals, if he or she did not apply within one year since his or her last entry into the U.S., or he or she could be removed to a safe third country. One may be barred from receiving asylum status due to certain criminal activities, security-related grounds or if you have been involved in the persecution of others or are already firmly resettled in another country.

When can one apply for adjustment of status?

One may apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum by filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status. He or she must submit a separate I-485 application packet for himself and for each family member who received derivative asylum based on his or her case.