How Do You Seek Asylum in the U.S.?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant you relief from removal if you seek protection from persecution in your home country. You may apply for asylum to enter or remain in the U.S. if you were persecuted, or fear future persecution based on your:

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

Immigration law has a broad definition of persecution itself, ranging from physical violence to unlawful detention and other harm or threats of harm. It is best to talk to an asylum seeker lawyer about your personal circumstances to advise you about applying for protection.

Affirmative Asylum Process

The affirmative asylum process is for individuals who are physically present in the U.S. and not facing removal or deportation. For many immigrants, the affirmative asylum process involves:

  • Filing Form I-589/Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
  • Submitting the form to the USCIS
  • Fingerprinting and background check
  • Non-adversarial interview with a USCIS asylum officer
  • An interpreter (if needed) and an attorney may be present

The Asylum officer evaluates the application for asylum according to the Immigration and Nationality Act. A supervising officer then reviews this decision.

Defensive Asylum Process

The defensive asylum process is primarily for individuals placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. This process usually involves:

  • Filing Form I-589/Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
  • Submitting the form to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
  • Attend a hearing that includes evidence and arguments
  • An interpreter (if needed) and an attorney may be present

After listening to both sides, the immigration judge will decide whether to grant asylum.

Compassionate Legal Representation for Asylum Applicants

Many of our asylum lawyers are immigrants. We understand the uncertainty and stress of navigating the immigration legal system. We help asylum seekers avoid potential issues that could delay or complicate their application.

Types of Asylum Decisions

Regardless of whether you are seeking affirmative or defensive asylum status, there are several possible outcomes:

  • Asylum Granted: You may live and work in the U.S. and will receive Form I-94, indicating that you have been granted asylum.
  • Referral to an Immigration Court: A referral does not mean denial; the government may need more information about your case before deciding.
  • Notice of Intent to Deny: This written notice gives you 16 days to appeal and provides additional information to support your plea for asylum.
  • Denial: Your asylum application could be denied if you fail to respond to the Notice of Intent or for other reasons explained by the USCIS or immigration court.

There are many steps in the asylum application process. Do not be discouraged if your case goes to immigration court or seems to take a long time. Let an experienced lawyer for asylum help you get the best possible outcome.

Asylum Interview

Individuals seeking affirmative asylum must provide their own interpreter for the interview. In defensive asylum proceedings, the immigration court provides a qualified interpreter. You have the right to bring an attorney with you in both situations.

A U.S. asylum lawyer will go over the documentation you should bring to the interview.

Form I-94, Arrival Departure Record

Being granted asylum means that you may remain in the U.S. The grant of asylum applies to your spouse and minor children, so long as you included them on your application and they are in the U.S.

You will receive a completed I-94 proof of your asylum status.

A grant of asylum allows you specific rights:

  • You may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), Social Security card, and a Permanent Residence Card (green card)
  • Immigration benefits for you, your spouse, and your unmarried children under 21

The USCIS could terminate your asylum protection under certain circumstances. So, if you want to remain in the U.S., talk to an asylum lawyer about pursuing permanent residency or citizenship through naturalization.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The USCIS may grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to foreign nationals already in the U.S. but for whom returning to their home country is dangerous.

The Department of Homeland Security could issue a temporary stay for immigrants for such circumstances as:

  • A natural or manmade disaster
  • Epidemic
  • Civil war or armed conflict
  • Other extraordinary conditions

An asylum immigration attorney can help individuals with TPS apply for adjustment of status.

Refugee and Asylum Status

Individuals who live outside the U.S. who want to escape persecution in their home country may seek refugee status. Asylum status is a form of immigration relief for persecuted individuals already in the U.S. or seeking lawful entry at a port or border.

Operation Allies Asylum Process

Individuals may apply for asylum regardless of their current immigration status or their country of nationality. There is a unique process for Afghanistan citizens, nationals, or individuals who lived primarily in Afghanistan.

An asylum lawyer can determine if you should apply for asylum in the Operation Allies category.

Let Us Help You Apply for Asylum  

Every year, people come to the U.S. to escape persecution and begin a new life. Our asylum lawyers help you navigate this process so that you may live without fear of persecution in America.