asylum application folder

What is an Asylum Application?

Each year, the United States receive thousands of people that arrive at the United States border applying for Asylum as a way to protect themselves from persecution in their home countries. People applying for asylum have to navigate a very overwhelming and complex process that involves multiple government agencies. If you are curious about who is eligible for asylum and how to submit your Form I-589 application for asylum, this is the blog post for you. Keep reading to learn more about Asylum applications in the U.S.

What is an Asylum Application? 

Before we go into the asylum application process, it’s important to understand what Asylum is. Asylum protection is a status that is granted to foreign nationals already in the United States, or arriving at the border, who meet the international law definition of a “refugee”, according to the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol. Congress incorporated this international definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980. Asylum status is technically a “discretionary” status. This means that some individuals can be denied asylum even if they meet the definition of a refugee. 

How Long Are Asylum Applications Taking? 

There are three main ways a person can fill out an asylum application in the United States:

  • Defensive Asylum – A person who is in removal proceedings may apply for asylum defensively by filing the application with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice. Unlike the criminal court system, EOIR does not provide counsel for individuals in immigration court.
  • Expedited Asylum – A person taken into custody within 14 days of entering the U.S. who is placed into “expedited removal” may be put through a process that allows a USCIS asylum officer to review and adjudicate their asylum claim before being placed into formal removal proceedings. People put through this process who are denied asylum are referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings and further expedited hearings in their asylum application.
  • Affirmative Asylum – A person who is not in removal proceedings may affirmatively apply for asylum through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the USCIS asylum officer doesn’t grant the asylum application, that person may be referred to immigration for removal proceedings.

In general, the asylum application process can take years to conclude. Backlogs, along with COVID delays, have compounded the wait time for asylum applicants. As of April 1, 2022, there were 470,786 affirmative asylum applications pending with USCIS. In order to apply for asylum, you must be in the U.S. or at a port of entry. Then apply for affirmative asylum directly with the USCIS. You will need to fill out and submit Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. After you file your application, an asylum officer with USCIS will review your application and send you a receipt notice. You will then receive a fingerprinting appointment notice from your local Application Support Center (ASC). Finally, you will receive a notice scheduling an interview with an asylum officer at the closest USCIS office.

Get in Touch

If you believe you or a loved one may qualify for asylum and want help navigating the U.S. immigration system, it’s best to speak with an experienced immigration attorney. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC we work together with our clients to get them through the process and work hard to achieve the best result possible. Get in touch today to discuss your specific immigration needs.