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Asylum Application: How U.S Asylum Works

Navigating the asylum process in the United States can be a complex yet vital journey for those seeking protection from persecution in their home countries. Understanding the eligibility criteria, initiating the asylum process, and preparing for the asylum interview are crucial steps in securing a new life in the U.S.


Asylum Application

If you want to complete your asylum application but need help figuring out where to start and what the process involves, we are here to help. As experienced asylum lawyers, we outline the different parts of the procedure below to give you a starting point and to provide the knowledge you need to start your U.S. asylum application.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for asylum in the United States, individuals must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

This fear must be based on past persecution or a credible threat of future persecution and is the foundation of what your application must be built on. Without a credible case or if you do not meet the eligibility criteria then it is highly unlikely you can secure U.S. sanctuary, even with the help of an asylum immigration lawyer.

Categories of Persecution

Persecution can manifest in various forms, such as physical harm, discrimination, or psychological abuse. Understanding the specific category of persecution is essential in building a compelling case and with U.S asylum, these are the following categories as per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Grounds for seeking asylum

Individuals seeking sanctuary must establish a direct connection between the persecution they fear and one of the protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The nexus between persecution and protected grounds

Highlighting the nexus between the persecution feared and the protected grounds is crucial. This establishes a clear link between the applicant’s circumstances and the criteria outlined in U.S. law. 

In short, there has to be some type of provable link between the two things – you can’t simply state that you feel you are being persecuted for example. An example of a proven link could be that you are a member of a religious group that is actively being persecuted by your nation’s government.

Initiating the Asylum Process with an Asylum Immigration Lawyer

We have to reinstate a crucial fact about the process – you can only apply if you are physically present in the U.S. and you are not already a U.S. citizen. So, you can’t start the application process from your home country. Once you are in the U.S. contact our office, and we can help you start the process.

Arrival in the U.S

Upon arrival in the United States, you can then initiate the process by applying for asylum within one year of your entry. It is essential to act promptly to comply with the statutory time limit so you don’t miss your opportunity and get the ball rolling ASAP because the application process can be lengthy.

Filing an affirmative asylum application

Applicants can file an affirmative application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), presenting their case and supporting evidence to establish eligibility for asylum. 

Specifically, this is form I-589 which is the Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. The affirmative application is an active one and can be completed by anyone (providing they meet the eligibility criteria) with a temporary legal status such as a short-term visa.

Defensive Asylum

It’s important to understand defensive asylum too as depending on how your application goes, this is something you may have to consider and it’s something a U.S. asylum attorney can help you with.

Asylum as a defense in removal proceedings

For those facing removal proceedings and the threat of deportation, asylum can be asserted as a defense. This involves presenting the claim before an immigration judge during the removal process. Defensive asylum is typically used when your initial affirmative application has been denied.

Immigration court process

Navigating the immigration court process requires a thorough understanding of legal proceedings, emphasizing the importance of legal representation during defensive cases. An asylum lawyer can coach you through the court process, explain how it will work, and what you have to do to present your case against deportation.

Asylum Lawyer

Credibility and Supporting Evidence

Credibility is paramount in the process. Consistency in testimony, honesty, and a well-prepared narrative contribute to establishing your credibility. You essentially have to show the U.S. government that you have a real case and fall under the protected grounds categories to claim asylum.

Types of supporting evidence

Supporting evidence, such as witness statements, documents, or country condition reports, strengthens your case by providing additional context and corroboration. You can also include the following pieces of evidence which can be considered:

  • Police reports.
  • Medical reports.
  • Mental health evaluations.
  • Letters or declarations from others supporting your case.
  • Newspaper or magazine articles discussing the persecution.
  • Digital evidence of threats such as SMS and Whatsapp messages.

The Asylum Interview

Once your application is complete, the next step is the interview and we can’t stress the importance of this enough. You must take this interview seriously and make sure you are as prepared as possible to improve your chances of being granted asylum.

Scheduling and preparation

The asylum interview is a critical stage where applicants present their case to a USCIS officer. Adequate preparation and understanding of the interview process are essential for a successful outcome which are things an asylum attorney can help you with.

USCIS asylum officers

Interacting with USCIS asylum officers requires effective communication and a comprehensive grasp of the asylum claim. You should be ready to articulate your fears and establish the necessary connections to protected grounds.

Language and interpretation challenges

Language barriers and interpretation challenges can complicate the interview. You must ensure your statement is accurately conveyed and understood – it is advised that you have a qualified interpreter attend the interview with you if you are not confident in your English speaking skills and comprehension.

Waiting Period and Employment Authorization

The process also involves a waiting period, during which applicants may face uncertainty. Understanding the processing times is crucial for managing expectations and planning for the future. Currently, it is expected that the waiting period to receive a decision for your application is on average 180 days.

Interim benefits

While waiting for a decision, asylum seekers may be eligible for certain benefits, including employment authorization, which allows them to work legally in the United States.

Asylum Attorney

Asylum Lawyer help with Denial and Appeals

Understanding common reasons for denial, such as lack of credibility or insufficient evidence, helps applicants address potential weaknesses in their cases. It’s also a great idea to know what appeal options you have, should your asylum application fail. Common reasons for denial can include:

  • You do not meet the eligibility criteria.
  • You were not in the U.S. when filing your asylum application.
  • You completed the forms incorrectly.
  • You were poorly prepared for your interview.
  • There were inconsistencies in your supporting evidence.
  • You missed the 1-year application deadline.

Options for appeal

In the event of a denial, you can appeal the decision. Familiarity with the appeals process and possible reconsideration avenues is vital for those seeking a second chance.

Reconsideration and reopening of cases

Applicants may explore avenues for reconsideration or reopening of cases, presenting additional evidence, or addressing concerns raised during the initial review.

U.S Asylum Application Process – Hire an Asylum Attorney for Your Case Today

We hope you have found this article enlightening and useful. Embarking on the U.S. asylum application process is a significant step towards a safer, more secure future. 

By comprehensively understanding eligibility criteria, navigating the process, and addressing potential challenges, you can increase your chances of a successful application. If you feel you need additional help and want someone to walk you through the application process, the best option is to contact a U.S. asylum lawyer.


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