Are you eligible for asylum in the United States?
You qualify for asylum if you have been persecuted or have a “well-founded fear of persecution” in your country based on (1) political opinion, (2) religion, (3) race, (4) nationality, or (5) membership in a particular social group.
Before you apply, please see our article, 4 Tips to Help You Win Your Case.
Use Form I-589 to apply for asylum. Attach a detailed affidavit and documentation in support of your application. There is no filing fee.
If you are outside the US, you may apply for refugee status based on these same criteria. Your fear of persecution must be either by the government of your country or by a group that the government is unable or unwilling to control.
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If you are able to establish past persecution, a presumption arises that you have established a well-founded fear of persecution. The burden of proof shifts to the government to demonstrate that circumstances have changed and that you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution or that you could avoid persecution by relocating in another part of your country and that it would be reasonable for you to do so.
If you are in lawful immigration status, you can submit an application for asylum directly with the appropriate USCIS Service Center. Should your application be denied, you will remain in lawful status.
However, if you are not in lawful status, should your application not be approved by the USCIS, you will be placed in removal proceedings. If you are in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge, in addition to applying for asylum, you may be eligible to apply for withholding of removal and for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
If the government can demonstrate that you have firmly resettled in a 3rd country, you are ineligible for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT. Generally, you must apply for asylum within one year after arriving in the US. However, there are various exceptions to this rule.
Once your application has been pending for over 150 days, you may apply for a work permit using form I-765. If your application is approved, and your spouse and/or children are outside the US, use form I-730 to bring them to the US as asylees. One year after you are granted asylum, you may apply for a green card.
- USCIS: Affirmative I-589 Scheduling Bulletin
- Asylum Videos
- 4 Tips to Help You Win Your Case
- Gender-Based Claims
- Firm Resettlement
- Convention Against Torture
- LGBT-Based Claims
- Membership in a Particular Social Group
- One Child Policy
- One Year Filing Requirement
- Temporary Protected Status
- Withholding of Removal
The page is divided into the following subtopics:
- General Information
- Success Stories
- Section 209 Adjustment of Status
- Articles and Reports
- Credible & Reasonable Fear FAQs
- Practice Advisories Regarding Asylum
- Asylum (USCIS)
- Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin (USCIS)
- Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- 180-Day EAD Clock Notice (USCIS)
- 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Eligibility and Applications FAQ (USCIS)
- Services Available for Asylees and Refugees (USCIS)
- Office Locator (USCIS)
- Affirmative I-589 Procedures Manual (USCIS)
- Country-Specific Information (USCIS)
- Useful Documents for Attorneys Representing Asylum Seekers (NIJC)
- I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- USCIS Processing of I-589 Cases (USCIS)
- Country of Origin Experts (Immigrant Refugee Rights Initiative)
- Experts on Countries of Origin by Country (Electronic Immigration Network)
ASYLUM SUCCESS STORIES
- Lawsuit Forces USCIS to Schedule Interview
- Iranian Woman Who Converted to Christianity
- Winning Your Case in Immigration Court
ASYLEE ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS
- Implementation of Ngwanyia Settlement Agreement
- AILF Announces Settlement of Asylee Adjustment Lawsuit
- Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft – Complete Text of Decision (2-12-04)
- USCIS Policy Memo: Guidance for Processing Reasonable Fear, Credible Fear, Asylum, and Refugee Claims in Accordance with Matter of A-B- (July 11, 2018)
- AG Sessions Tightens Rules for Victims of Domestic and Group Violence – Matter of A-B- (6-11-18)
- US Stops Accepting Applications Under the Central American Minors Program (11-09-17)
- READ MEMO: Trump Administration Quietly Made I-589s More Difficult in the United States (3-10-17)
- USCIS Increases Validity of Work Permits to Two Years (10-06-16)
ASYLUM: ARTICLES AND REPORTS
- State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1999 – Present)
- Immigration Judge Reports (TRAC)
- Outcome Increasingly Depends on Judge Assigned – 2016 (TRAC)
- Judge-by-Judge Decisions in Immigration Courts FY 2007-2012 (TRAC)
- International Religious Freedom Reports (2001 – Present)
- Trafficking in Persons Reports (2001 – Present)
- Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information (February 2017)
- Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016 (10-19-15)
- Mexican and Central American I-589 and Credible Fear Claims: Background and Context (5-21-14)
- Chandra v. Holder, Jr., U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Motions to Reopen (5-12-14)
- Employment Authorization: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Clock (2-5-14)
- U.S. Reaches its Refugee Admissions Target for First Time Since 1980 (10-21-13)
- ABT Settlement Agreement (5-10-13)
- Oshodi v. Holder: Petitioner Has Constitutional Right to Testify in Support of Asylum Application (8-27-13)
- Final Rule: Forwarding of Asylum Applications to the DOS (3-29-13)
- INS Memo on Child Status Protection Act
- Closing the Asylum Door by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & David Neal (1995)
- Seeking Asylum in the U.S. by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & Michael Straus (1991)
CREDIBLE & REASONABLE FEAR FAQs
- Credible Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- Reasonable Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- Findings of Credible Fear Plummet Amid Widely Disparate Outcomes by Location and Judge (TRAC, 7-30-18)
- Guidance on Immediate Family Members in Credible Fear (USCIS, 6-27-14)
PRACTICE ADVISORIES REGARDING ASYLUM
- Mandamus Actions: Avoiding Dismissal and Proving the Case (03-08-17)
- Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock (02-05-14)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening an 8 attorney firm specializing in immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl as featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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