• 18 March 2019

Important Things You Should Know About Applying for Asylum in the United States

What are the asylum requirements?

To qualify for asylum, you must meet the definition of a refugee. There are several requirements for refugee status:

  1. You must be unable or unwilling to return to the country where you are from;
  2. The reason for your inability or unwillingness to return must be persecution or fear of persecution. If you claim to have a fear of persecution, you may have to provide evidence to prove your fear is reasonable;
  3. Your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion must be the reason for such persecution.

You must meet all of the requirements to be qualified as a refugee to get asylum. If you think you qualify, contact your attorney to assist in completing Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.

When should I apply for asylum and file the application form?

Despite your current immigration status, you may apply for asylum if you are physically present in the U.S. However, you must apply within one year after your arrival in the U.S.

If you missed the one-year deadline, you must have a legitimate reason for consideration. If you are unable to give a reasonable explanation, the DHS may rule that you are not eligible for asylum. Therefore, it is very important for you to clearly explain your reason to the immigration officials. Federal regulations specify some situations which may qualify as valid explanations for filing late. Seek the services of a qualified Immigration Attorney if you missed the one-year deadline.

Can I include my spouse and children in the application?

If your spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years old are also physically present in the U.S., you may include them in your application. If you plan to include them, you must submit additional documentation. Discuss this with your Immigration Attorney, because missing documentation may delay your application process.

If your children are over 21 years old or married, you may not include them in your application. They must file their own separate applications.

If your spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years old are outside the U.S., you may file Form I-730, Refugee and Asylee Relative Petition, for them after your asylum application is approved.

What are I-589 form filing requirements?

There is no fee to file this application. However, you should completely and accurately organize your application and submit the required number of copies per the instructions. The requirements for each document are as follows:

  • Form I-589 and any Supplementary Sheets and Statements: You must submit the original and one copy.
    • If you have family members listed in Part A.II. of the form, you must also file a Form I-589 for each of them. You must also file two copies of evidence of your relationship as well.
  • Additional Supporting Material: You must submit the original and two copies.
    • Affidavit: You must file the original and one copy.
  • Identification Documents:
    • Passport or other travel documents: you must submit two copies for yourself and for each family member listed in Part A.II. of the form.
    • Other identification documents: The government recommends submitting two copies of all other identification documents. (Although this is not a requirement, it is best to follow the recommendation.) Bring your originals to your immigration interview.
  • Photos: You must submit one passport-style photo for yourself and each family member listed in Part A.II. The photos must have been taken within the 30 days before you file your application. Additional instructions are on the I-589 form.

The application process can be complicated and confusing. Any mistake, error, or omission may cause unnecessary delay in processing your application because the USCIS will return incomplete applications. Therefore, it is very important to seek the counsel of a qualified immigration attorney to make sure your application is complete.

Disclaimer: The article contains general information and does not include legal advice on a particular case.

Xili Zou, Paralegal, ACS Law Offices, Inc.