USCIS Asylum Application: Step by Step

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USCIS Asylum Application

Immigration has been the center of attention over the past year in the United States that involves the Trump administration. One of the main factors of such attention is the amount of asylum seekers denied due to immigration laws made by the President. By definition, asylum is a protection accepted to immigrants who are already in the United States or arriving at the port of entry who meets the legal criteria of a refugee.

In any circumstance, an asylum is considered to be one if he or she is threatened by persecution in his mother country with reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and participation in social groups.

In the United States, filing for an asylum can be a lot tricky than what lies on the surface. This is why it is crucial to know the how and what in terms of application. To know the process of asylum application, here’s the step by step guide you should be checking out.

Affirmative Asylum Process

The asylum application for the USCIS (United States Civil and Immigration Services) are categorized into two: an affirmative and a defensive.

  1. United States Arrival

To be able to apply for affirmative asylum, the seeker must be physically present in the United States. One cannot file affirmative if he or she is not granted entry in the country or if the documentations possessed are illegal.

  1. Application Proper

When it comes to filing an application, the non-citizen should fill in a Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal with USCIS within a year of latest arrival. Failure to apply within a year (except if there is a legal exception) would result to denial of application secondary to ineligibility for asylum.

Once it has been completed, the seeker may submit his or her application depending on his corresponding location (for list of filing locations, please refer here.) Once the USCIS has received the application, there will be two notices to expect: 1) Acknowledgment of Receipt of Application, and 2) Notice to visit the nearest Application Support Center (ASC) for Fingerprinting.

  1. Fingerprinting and Background / Security Checks

Upon receiving the ASC Appointment Notice, the seeker must bring it with him or her to be able to do fingerprinting. The fingerprinting appointment has no payment fee for asylum applicants.

  1. The Interview

After the Fingerprinting Appointment, the applicant will receive an interview notice and have them scheduled an interview with an asylum officer at either an asylum office, sub-offices, or at a USCIS filed office depending on the seeker’s location. During the interview, the applicant may bring his or her immigration attorney, an interpreter if English is not their first language, and a witness to support his claims.

  1. Official Reviews and Decision

Now that the petition for granting asylum has been put on the table, the asylum officials will then check how eligible the applicant is and if his or her personal background, criminal records on sites like and public records does not violate any rules and regulations back home and in the United States.

Most of the time, within a two-week timeframe, the applicant will be asked to return to the asylum office to receive the decision of the asylum officials. However, cases with a longer processing time, the decision is normally mailed to the applicant.

Defensive Asylum Process

As for a defensive application for asylum, it requires a longer process. By definition of USCIS, a defensive application occurs when the seeker requests asylum as a defense against being deported from the United States.

  1. Qualifications

For an asylum processing to considered as defensive, the immigrant should be in removal proceedings in Immigration Court with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Instead of filing a Form I-589, the applicant would submit his or her application through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

  1. Immigration Court

At the Immigration Court, the immigration judge then hears the case and decide after hearing the arguments of both sides: 1) The applicant / his or her legal representative and 2) The U.S. Government represented by a lawyer from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  1. Final Decision

After meeting at the court, the judge then decides if the applicant is eligible for asylum. If the judge finds the seeker ineligible for asylum, they will find alternatives that best fit the applicant to set as a relief from removal. However, if the judge finds the applicant unfit for forms of relief, he or she will be deported from the United States. For more information, contact an asylum attorney from Houston.

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