FILLING OUT THE I-589 ASYLUM APPLICATION
PREPARING THE I-589
A note regarding Convention Against Torture (CAT) Relief: In almost all cases, it is best for an applicant who is completing Form I-589 and has legitimate fears about being tortured in her or her home country to check the box at the top of page 1, to help preserve CAT eligibility if his or her case is referred to immigration court.
For help completing Form I-589: Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) may be able to help you find qualified people to help you fill out this form. Please contact the UNHCR for more information:
1775 K Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
Telephone: (202) 296-5191
The following information is provided as a general guide to completing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and is not meant to be legal advice. Anyone seeking asylum in the United States should consult an experienced, knowledgeable immigration attorney before completing this form.
A. Part A: 👤 “Information About You”
1. Alien Registration Number (“A-Number,” or “A#”)
If you have had any interaction as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), then you likely have an Alien Registration Number; or as it is more commonly called, an A-Number. For example, if you received a Notice to Appear (NTA) it would be on there. However, if you do not have an A-Number then you should just write N/A in the appropriate space here, and wherever else it appears on the application.
2. Social Security Number
For most, this will not apply to you. If you have a social security number, write it in. If you do not have a social security number, put “None” in the appropriate space.
3. USCIS Online Account Number
If you have created an account with USCIS, you should put your account number here.
4, 5, 6. Complete Last Name, First Name, Middle Name
This is where you should put your last name (surname), along with your first and middle name, as they appear on your passport or similar identification. This means your full, legal name. If you do not have a middle name, then just leave it blank (if you write “none,” USCIS might think that “none” is your middle name!).
This is where you should put all variations of your real name that you have ever used. This should include nicknames, previous names, etc. For example, if your name is Elizabeth, but at various times you went as “Lizzie,” “Liz,” “Beth,” and “Big E,” you should list all of these names. If you are married and changed your name, you should include your maiden name. If you are divorced and went back to your maiden name, then you should put your previous married name. Basically, if you legally changed your last name for any reason (marriage, adoption, or other), you should list your previous name. If you are transgender, gender nonbinary/non-conforming, or otherwise do not identify with the gender assigned to you at birth, and also chose another name, you should list your preferred name here, or if that is now your legal name, then you should list your birth name.
8. Residence in the U.S
You should write your home address in the U.S. This will help USCIS determine which Asylum Office is in charge of your case and where your interview will take place. If you move, you have to update your application with your new address.
9. Mailing address in the U.S
If your home address is not the best place to receive important mail, you can also put a separate mailing address here. USCIS will send all important information and mail regarding your case to this address. Your attorney (hopefully us) will also receive mail from USCIS, so unless it is absolutely necessary, you should not use their office address. If you want to use your home address as your mailing address, then simply write “same as above.”
If you are transgender, or your asylum claim involves a matter of gender, and therefore choosing “male” or “female” is not accurate for you, you can write an asterisk (*) and write (very small) “see supplement.” If you are transgender, and identify as male or female, you can select the appropriate one, you should also just be prepared to attach a letter from a physician, if your official ID does not match your gender identity as of yet.
11. Marital Status
Only check married if you are legally married. If you are in a domestic partnership or civil union, you should check Single.
12. Date of Birth
This should be fairly self-explanatory, put your real date of birth.
13. City and Country of Birth
Only write the name of the city/town/village and the country where you were born. If you are not a citizen of that country or you hold dual citizenship, there is a place for that below.
14. Present Nationality (Citizenship)
List all countries you hold citizenship, even if you do not live in one or several of them.
15. Nationality at Birth
Put your country of nationality at birth in this space, even if it is the same as your current nationality.
16, 17. Race/Ethnic or Tribal Group; Religion
Write in your race/ethnicity or tribal group in the first space, and your religion in the second. Put “none” in the box designated for religion if you are not affiliated with any religion.
19 a. The Date of Exit from Applicant’s Country
Put the exact date you left your country, or as close as possible. It is used to determine if you traveled through or lived in any countries before coming to the U.S., and whether you could have sought asylum in any of those countries.
19 b. Current I-94 Number, if any
This is a “record of inspection” issued at a port of entry when you arrived in the U.S. You can find your I-94 number online here. If you were admitted without inspection (meaning you crossed the border without interacting with any law enforcement), you should write “None.”
19 c. Entry to the U.S.
Date of Last Arrival You should write your most recent entry into the U.S. If you got an I-94 when you arrived, you can find the date on that form. The correct date is very important because you generally must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival (unless you satisfy a waiver exception). If you last came to the U.S. without being inspected by an Immigration Officer at a port of entry (i.e. came across without interacting with any law enforcement officials) (“Entered Without Inspection” or “EWI”), then you should write the date that you actually crossed the border (or as close as possible). Place of Last Arrival If you have an I-94, this information can also be found there. If you entered without inspection (EWI), you should write the general area where you crossed, such as “Texas.” Status This can be found on your I-94 or your passport. More likely than not, your initial entry into the United States was on a non-immigrant status. If you entered without inspection, the correct response to this question is simply EWI. Date Status Expires This refers to the expiration date of the permitted stay on your immigration status. For example, if you came to the U.S. on a B2 visitor visa, you would put the end of the time period allowed to remain in the U.S. For example, if you were admitted to the U.S. as a visitor on a B2 visa for six months, you would write the end of the time period allowed to remain in the U.S. as the expiration date (unless it had been extended), and not the expiration of your visa (because a B-2 visa could be valid for entries as a visitor for many years sometimes). Some I-94s, such as those for students, have “D/S” for “duration of status,” rather than a specific date. If your I-94 says “D/S,” you should write this in on the Date Status Expires line. For each entry into the U.S., you should provide information to the best of your ability about the date, place, and status of that entry. If you run out of room, you can continue writing in Supplement B.
20. Country that Issued Last Passport or Travel Document
You should write the name of the country that issued the passport you used at the time of your arrival in the U.S.
21. Passport/Travel Document #
Write the passport number of your current passport, even if it now expired. If you entered the United States with a passport, you won’t have travel documents. If you entered with travel documents, you likely do not have a visa. If you entered with travel documents just write the number. If you don’t have either (for example you entered without inspection), just write “N/A” in the appropriate box.
22. Expiration Date
Enter the month, day, and year of expiration of your most recent passport or travel document (even if it is now expired).
23, 24, 25. Languages
Write in your native language. If you have more than one native language, write in the language in which you feel most comfortable. If you are fluent in English, answer “Yes.”
Part A. II. 👥 Information about Your Spouse and Children
This part of the application is about your spouse and children. If you are married, the section for your spouse must be completed, whether or not he/she/they are included as part of the application. If you are not married, check the box on the top line and proceed to the part, which asks about children ( I have children). If you do not have any children, simply check I do not have any children and move on. The information about your spouse and children is the same type of information that you had to fill out in the first section about you, and you can use those instructions.
Part A. III. 🔎 Information about Your Background
You should list your last address outside of the U.S. where you lived, i.e. not just spending the night. If you did not come directly to the United States from the country where you feared persecution, you must list your last address in the country you lived in last, in addition to the last address in the country where you fear persecution (likely your home country).
Provide all addresses at which you have resided for the past five years.
List all schools attended. Write “None,” or “N/A,” if you have not attended school.
You should list all information related to employment for the last five years. If you have never been employed, write “None” or “N/A.”
5. Parents and Siblings
For each relative, list their names, where they were born and where they now live; or check the box for “Deceased” if they have died. If you have no siblings, write “None” or “N/A.” If you have more siblings than the space provided, you should write all the required information in Supplement B (the last page of the asylum application).
Part B. 📄 Information About Your Application
1. Why are you applying for asylum or withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture?
You should check all boxes that apply to your case, it is possible and likely that your claim will fall into multiple categories. It is probably a good idea to check off the “Torture Convention,” since it will preserve eligibility for a Convention Against Torture (CAT) claim if your case is referred to immigration court.
1 a. Have you, your family, or close friends or colleagues ever experienced harm or mistreatment, or threats in the past by anyone?
This question asks about past persecution. You should briefly, but thoroughly explain any past harm(s) that you or someone you know personally, suffered based on one of the listed groups above. If you have not directly experienced any harm, you should provide examples of harm your family and/or friends have suffered, because it will personalize your fear of future persecution. Furthermore, even if any of the harm you suffered does not rise to the level of persecution, you should still include some examples to help paint a picture of the life that you are afraid of returning to, in your home country.
1 b. Do you fear harm or mistreatment if you return to your home country?
This question asks if you fear future persecution. In order to qualify for asylum, you must answer yes to this question. You should also be brief and thorough in describing the harm you fear, for example, abuse by police or forced marriage.
2. Have you or your family members ever been accused, charged, arrested, detained, interrogated, convicted and sentenced, or imprisoned in any country other than the U.S.?
It is possible you will have already mentioned arrests or detentions that you or your family or friends have suffered, however, you should still list them again. You should write down any interactions you had with the police and/or the military where you did not feel free
3 a. Have you or your family members ever belonged to or been associated with any organizations or groups in your home country?
This question can be particularly important if you are applying for asylum based on persecuted political opinion, or religion. You should list any or all associations or memberships with organizations in your home country, along with any evidence of membership (letters, membership cards, news stories, etc.). Examples of groups might be a church, a union, or a political party.
3 b. Do you or your family members continue to participate in any way in these organizations or groups?
If you are still involved in any of these groups, you should fully explain here.
4. Are you afraid of being subjected to torture in your home country or any other country to which you may be returned?
If you are applying for relief under CAT(Convention Against Torture), you should be able to answer yes to this question. Essentially, if you are afraid of harm or pain either directly because of your government or with the agreement/neglect of your government, then you should indicate yes. You might have to repeat some details from your previous answers, but you should still state everything related to your fear of torture and by whom.
Part C. 📑 Additional Information About Your Application
1. Have you, your spouse, your child(ren), your parents, or your siblings ever applied to the United States Government for refugee status, asylum, or withholding of removal?
It is important you answer this question honestly, as it may affect your application.
2 a. After leaving the country from which you are claiming asylum, did you or your spouse or child(ren), who are now in the United States, travel through or reside in any other country before entering the United States?
The purpose of this question is to determine if you could have reasonably sought asylum in another country.
2 b. Have you, your spouse, your child(ren), or other family members such as your parents or siblings, ever applied for or received any lawful status in any country other than the one from which you are now claiming asylum?
The purpose of this question is is whether you could have, or could currently seek asylum or another immigration status, in another country.
3. Have you, your spouse, or child(ren) ever ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in causing harm or suffering to any person because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or belief in a particular political opinion?
This question is related to mandatory bars to asylum. For most, the answer to this question will be no.
4. After you left the country where you were harmed or feared harm, did you return to that country?
You have to write every previous trip back to your home country. There are reasonable explanations for why you might have returned after you left to seek asylum. However, the asylum officer will most certainly ask you about them, so you should provide an explanation here.
5. Are you filing the application more than 1 year after your last arrival in the United States?
If you answer yes, then you must write a detailed explanation as to why you missed the one-year deadline. Unless you can show an exception for missing the one-year deadline, your application will be denied. You should briefly and thoroughly state your exception here. It will either be for changed circumstances and/or extraordinary circumstances. Even if you are filing after the one-year deadline, you still must file “within a reasonable period of time” after the exception, so you should also address that.
6. Have you or any member of your family included in the application ever committed any crime and/or been arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced for any crimes in the United States?
You should answer this question honestly. You should answer yes if you were arrested, but not charged. Basically, even if your case was dismissed or sealed, you should still answer yes. If you were convicted of a “particularly serious crime” (an aggravated felony), you will not be eligible for asylum, because of a mandatory bar. If you are not certain whether a crime would affect asylum eligibility, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney.
You need to write in your name (plus your name in your native alphabet if it is not the English alphabet), sign and date the application, and attach your passport-style photograph in the top right-hand corner.
If an attorney or accredited representative prepared the form, check the yes box in response to the question about help filling out the application.
You should also answer whether or not have you been provided with a list of free or low-cost attorneys.
Make sure you read the certification above the signature line!
Part E. 📄 Declaration of Person Preparing Form if Other than Applicant, Spouse, Parent, or Child
If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney should complete and sign this part as well as filling out a G-28.
Part F. ❗️To Be Completed at Interview or Hearing
You will be asked to complete and sign this part at the interview at the Asylum Office to reaffirm that the application and documentation attached are true.
Part G. ❗️To Be Completed at Removal Hearing, if Applicable
You will be asked to complete and sign this part at the interview before the Immigration Judge (if you are put in Removal Proceedings) to reaffirm that the application and documentation attached are true.
Immigration forms can be confusing and complicated, so let us help you make this process smooth and painless.
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The U.S. asylum process is very complicated, so the best chance of success comes by working with an experienced asylum attorney. We are highly experienced in US asylum law. We have helped people from all over the world fleeing persecution to gain asylum in the US. Our attorneys, translators, and support staff will work with you individually to give you the best chance of success possible. We know how difficult and heart-wrenching the asylum process can be, and we will be with you every step of the way.
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Can I ask for political asylum from outside the US?
NO. To apply for political asylum, you must be in the United States (embassies or diplomatic missions outside the US will not help you in this matter). Being outside the US, you can only apply for refugee status and this procedure is also a complicated procedure.
Can I apply for asylum when crossing the border?
This is possible, and such cases often occur at the border crossing with Mexico. The application directly on the border is an extreme measure. A very important point is that when you cross the border without the necessary permission (US visa) and asylum application, you are most likely to be detained and placed in an immigration prison where you will conduct initial inquiries and check all the facts you previously stated. The decisions of the border service can be delayed for weeks or even months.
Can I apply for political asylum if I am illegally in the US?
You have the right to defend and examine your application, even if you are in an illegal status. It is very important that this happens in the first year of your stay in the country. Otherwise, you have to argue, there are compelling reasons why you did not do this before.
How long does it take to get an interview for asylum?
Beginning on January 29, 2018, the Immigration Department for Asylum (USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Service Group) will give priority to the newest applications when assigning interviews. Such a change in the schedule of interviews will make it possible to weed out those applicants who use groundless statements and try to use this process solely to obtain a work permit and will enable the USCIS to immediately identify such persons and begin the process of their deportation. In reality, the new Priority will allow the USCIS to make decisions on qualified asylum seekers more quickly and efficiently.
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