If you talked with someone at the U.S. border, or in customs at your arriving U.S. airport, and you are legally admitted into the United States with any Nonimmigrant Status (for example, B-2 for tourism), this will be your asylum process. The law requires you to apply for asylum within one year of legally entering the country unless you can demonstrate: altered circumstances that directly affect your eligibility for asylum; or, that your delay in applying was caused by unusual or exceptional circumstances; and, that you filed in a reasonable time considering those unusual or exceptional circumstances. But, USCIS has adopted a policy of allowing the one-year deadline to start running at the expiration of your lawful status (the day your Nonimmigrant status expires). Applying for asylum starts by submitting a complex paper application, an I-589, with supporting evidence. Then, shortly after (USCIS tries to do this within 21 days), you will be scheduled for an Asylum Interview, in the not-too-distant future. At this interview, you will have to convince an asylum officer that you are eligible for asylum.
Within 14 days of your interview, you should get a decision on whether you have been given asylum. If your asylum case is “granted,” a piece of paper will tell you that you have been given “recommended approval” for asylum. Congratulations! This means you have obtained asylum, but USCIS has to verify your identity and perform some background checks on you, before giving you final approval.
APPLY FOR GREEN CARD
Once you have been given “recommended approval” for asylum, it can take several months or even a year or more, for you to get your final approval notice in the mail. If you haven’t already applied for an Employment Authorization Document, you can do so with “recommended approval,” as well as a social security card. These things will allow you to work while are waiting for your grant of “final approval” to come in the mail. Once you receive final approval, exactly one year after your final approval date, you can apply for your Green Card/Permanent Residency by filing a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Within 14 days of your interview, you should get a decision on whether you have been given asylum. An asylum “denial” will come in two forms, depending on whether you are still in a lawful nonimmigrant status at the time that you are denied. Click below for an explanation of each:
IF “DENIED” WHILE STILL IN STATUS:
If you are still in a lawful Nonimmigrant Status at the time that your asylum application is “denied,” then this is what should happen. You will be issued a letter called a “Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).” This means that the Asylum Office does not believe that you are eligible, and they will tell you what part(s) of your case are preventing you from qualifying. You will have 16 days to respond to a NOID and submit additional evidence and/or make arguments for why you qualify. If you don’t respond in 16 days, then you will automatically be given a “final denial.” If you do respond, then the Officer will consider your response to the NOID (this can take a long time), and decide to either change their mind by giving you recommended approval, or issue you a final denial. Historically, if you were given a final denial, you could not appeal or have your case reconsidered in Immigration Court. You would simply be allowed to stay in the United States until your Nonimmigrant Status expired. You could at that time, in some circumstances, apply for asylum a second time, and then have access to the Immigration Court after having that second application denied. This historic treatment of final denials is still largely true, with one possible exception.* *Recently, USCIS issued a policy memorandum that says that if your asylum case is denied while you are still in lawful status (have a valid Nonimmigrant Visa), you can request in writing to USCIS the following. You can request that USCIS in their discretion, issue you a Notice to Appear (for deportation proceedings), upon the expiration of your nonimmigrant status. They don’t have to agree to do this for you, but if they do, you will be placed in removal proceedings and allowed to argue your asylum eligibility before the Immigration Judge after you have fallen out of status. This is a very new development in the law, and we don’t yet know how often USCIS will agree to allow this.
IF “DENIED” WHILE OUT OF STATUS
If you are “denied” for asylum and you have fallen out of status (your Nonimmigrant Status you applied with is no longer valid), then this is what will happen. Your “denial” will not be called a denial, but instead a “Notice to Appear” in Immigration Court for Deportation/Removal Proceedings. The threat of deportation is scary, but if this happens to you, this is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. Why? Because it means that you will get a second opportunity to argue your asylum case (along with some other similar forms of relief) in Immigration Court, in front of the Immigration Judge. If you had been “denied,” while still in valid status, you wouldn’t normally have this opportunity (with one small potential exception). Thus, this can be a good thing, and is the reason that many asylum applicants wait to apply for asylum until a few days before their status expires. Also, if the the Immigration Court denies you, there are other levels of appeal that you can pursue; appeal options that are also not readily available to a person that is denied, while still holding a valid Nonimmigrant Status.
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The U.S. asylum process is very complicated, so the best chance of success comes from 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. Your citizenship or your residency status is something you should entrust to a professional. Call the top New York Immigration Attorneys toll-free at 1-888-ZONTLAW / 1-888-966-8529.
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.
Can I apply for asylum with a minimum of materials, and send documents and evidence after I apply?
It is possible, but we do not recommend it. In cases where you sent an off-the-shelf petition, the fact of not being prepared may negatively affect your interview and raise suspicions about the reliability of the information provided earlier.
Is it possible to apply for political asylum without a lawyer?
Some apply for political asylum on their own, filling out Form I-589 and attaching a declaration. Applicants, who apply for political asylum in the US do not need to hire a lawyer and an interpreter to apply for political asylum in the United States. But you need to consider important points: 1. Immigration Attorneys analyze the facts of persecution, and apply immigration laws to the facts. 2. Attorneys help applicants to fill out the necessary immigration forms and not make any mistakes in their filing. 3. Attorneys help Applicants prepare for the interview, correctly write a declaration, and collect documents. 4. Attorneys have the right to intervene in the process by using immigration law at all stages of the proceedings. 5. Attorneys can help find an interpreter and represent refugees in interviews and in the process of deportation to the immigration court. When your future is at stake, you need to weigh everything for and against the participation of Attorneys in your process.
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