If you are currently in the U.S. and you are not in deportation proceedings, the seven steps below summarize how you can apply for affirmative asylum.
Step 1: Verify you have been physically in the U.S.
You must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for asylum. Before applying, gather the evidence that can prove your presence.
Step 2: File Form I-589, and wait for your 2 notices
a. Make sure you are not barred from applying for asylum.
b. File Form 1-589, within one year of your last arrival in the U.S. (unless you meet an exception to that deadline). Do not submit a completed fingerprint card (FD-258) or fingerprint fee with Form I-589. Your fingerprints will be taken at a later step.
c. After USCIS receives your completed application, you will receive 2 notices: (1) A Receipt Notice that shows they received your application; and (2) The ASC Appointment Notice, which is a notice to visit your nearest application support center (ASC) for fingerprinting.
Step 3: Go to an ASC for fingerprinting and background/security checks
After receiving your ASC Appointment Notice, take it with you to the ASC for your fingerprint appointment. No fees are assessed for fingerprinting to asylum applicants. Bring your spouse and children along, if you are also requesting asylum for them.
Step 4: Wait for the Interview Notice
USCIS will then schedule you for an interview with an asylum officer at one of its offices. You will receive an Interview Notice from USCIS that will tell you the date, location, and time of your asylum interview. Based on the timing of your filing, the USCIS will interview you as either first, second, or third priority. USCIS may consider an urgent interview on a case-by-case basis, and may work with you on finding a nearby field office for the interview.
Step 5: Go to USCIS for the interview
Go to the appropriate USCIS office, on the date and time listed in your Interview Notice, to conduct the interview. You can bring an attorney or other accredited representative. If your spouse or children are claiming derivative asylum, they must also go to the interview. You must bring an interpreter, if you cannot conduct the interview in English. You can also bring witnesses to testify for you. See our tips on how to successfully pass your asylum interview.
Step 6: Asylum officer determines your eligibility for asylum, and supervisory officer reviews that decision
After your interview, the asylum officer will examine your entire application and determine whether you meet the definition of refugee (i.e., have suffered past persecution, or a credible fear of persecution), and are not barred from asylum based on an exception in INA 208(b)(2). A supervisory officer then reviews the asylum officer’s decision to make sure it is accurate to the law. At this stage, the supervisory officer can refer the case to other staff for additional review, if needed.
Step 7: Receive the asylum decision
Usually, two weeks after your asylum interview, you can go back to the asylum office to receive the USCIS’s decision. The processing might be longer if you currently have a valid immigration status; were interviewed at a field office (instead of an asylum office); have security checks pending; or if your case is still under review by USCIS staff. In those cases, USCIS will mail you the decision. You also can check your case status online using the receipt number that USCIS gave you in the Receipt Notice.