The Asylum Process

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 31,429 individuals were given asylum in the United States through the affirmative or defensive asylum process during 2020. To apply for asylum through the affirmative asylum process, an individual must be present in the United States and complete the I-589 form within one year of their most recent arrival in the United States. 

An individual may be ineligible to apply for asylum if one previously applied for asylum and it was denied, or they can be placed safely to a safe third country, such as Canada. After completing the form, each individual must obtain background checks, which is free of charge to those applying for asylum. 

The next part of the process is the interview notice and the interview itself. The notice will include all information necessary for the interview: date, time, and location. Post-interview, the asylum officer will make a decision on the application in accordance with the law and determine if the individual meets the definition of a refugee. The supervisory asylum officer will review the decision and may send the decision to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for further review. 

Approximately two weeks after the interview, the individual will return to the same location as their interview to receive the final decision. If the applicant is granted asylum, they will be sent a letter and the Form I-94 that indicates their asylum status. If the applicant was not approved, their case will be directed to the immigration court for additional review and they will need to refill out the I-589 form, unless it is forwarded to the immigration court under certain circumstances. 

The individual can be sent to Immigration Court in one of two ways: 

1) for further review after applying for asylum through the Affirmative Asylum Process 

2) an individual was apprehended at a U.S port of entry without proper documentation or by U.S. Customs and Border Protection without proper documentation and have a credible fear of persecution as deemed by an asylum officer. 

After the individual case has been presented in court-like proceedings, the immigration judge hearing their case will determine whether they are eligible for asylum. The decision can be appealed if asylum is not granted, but an individual’s eligibility for other forms of relief will be determined prior to deportation.  For further information on the asylum process, click here or view the infographics below.