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how to apply for asylum in USA 2024: Step-by-Step Process

how to apply for asylum in USA
how to apply for asylum in USA

If you want to start a new life in the US and are fleeing persecution in your home country, the first step is understanding how to apply for asylum in USA and this is what we explain below.

Understanding Asylum in the US in 2024

Legal Framework and Definition

 

The US government is subject to the legal framework of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which they are party to. This outlines the definition of an asylum seeker and refugee and what rights they have. The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) department oversees the asylum process, and you will deal directly with their office and officers.

Eligibility for US Asylum

 

To be eligible for asylum in the U.S. you must be able to show that you have a reasonable fear of, or have been subject to persecution in your home country and that it is unsafe for you to return there. Grounds for persecution are split into five categories:

 

  • Race.
  • Religion.
  • Nationality.
  • Political Opinion.
  • Membership in a Particular Social Group.

 

You must also be physically present in the United States and not already a U.S. citizen.

 

immigration lawyer asylum
immigration lawyer asylum

how to apply for asylum in USA – Important Steps

 

When looking at how to apply for asylum in USA, a set procedure typically occurs, and we have detailed the different steps below.

1. Gathering Supporting Evidence for Your Claim


When looking at how to apply for asylum there is a little preparation before starting the application. This includes gathering the relevant documentation required for Form I-589 and supporting evidence to strengthen your argument. You MUST provide the following with your asylum application:

 

  • Copy of any passport you have.
  • Copy of any U.S. immigration documents you have.
  • Copy of any other identification documents (birth certificate, driverโ€™s license, etc.)


Itโ€™s also ideal to include supporting evidence that shows the persecution you face and the conditions you lived in in your home country and your claim is based on. An attorney asylum can guide in this area and help build a case, but examples of documents to obtain include:

 

  • Doctorsโ€™ statements.
  • Medical assessments.
  • Psychological assessments.
  • Testimonials from witnesses.
  • Photographs.
  • Newspaper articles.
  • A written declaration.
  • Police reports.
  • Text messages.
  • Social media messages.
  • Membership cards.


The more evidence you can gather, the stronger your asylum case becomes. Please note that the evidence should have a direct relationship to yourself where possible, as this helps demonstrate your founded fear of persecution.

2. Filing Form I-589


With your evidence gathered, the next step is to file Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal). This is incredibly important and you must read each section carefully and provide as much info as possible. Also, donโ€™t leave any required sections blank or provide false info, as this could mean your asylum application is immediately rejected.

 

The form must be filed within 1 year of your arrival in the United States.

3. Attending the Biometrics Appointment (If Necessary)


The USCIS may schedule a biometrics appointment for you. This is to get your fingerprints, photos, and other necessary identification for US government records. This step isnโ€™t always necessary as your details may already be on file or obtainable from other sources.

 

An important point in how to apply for asylum in USA, if you receive a biometrics appointment confirmation, you must attend it, as failing to do so could harm your chances of a successful application.

 

attorney asylum
attorney asylum

4. Attending the Asylum Interview


The asylum interview is especially important as itโ€™s during this procedure that a USCIS officer assesses your application and tries to gauge your authenticity and suitability for asylum.

 

Making the right impression helps so dress smartly, bathe beforehand, and conduct yourself in a professional but friendly manner.

 

You must bring any children under the age of 21 with you listed on your asylum application, and you can also bring witnesses and an interpreter. Your asylum attorney can also attend the meeting.

 

During the interview, you are asked to take an oath of truth, and the officer will ask you a series of questions relating to your personal history and background. Be truthful, and make sure your answers are consistent.

 

You must also provide the original identity documents used during your initial application. The interview usually takes a minimum of one hour, but the length depends entirely on your application and the questions asked.

5. Waiting for a Decision


On average, a decision on your asylum application takes 180 days from the point you filed Form I-589. We understand that this is a long time to wait, but this is due to how the US immigration system works, the number of applications, and the careful consideration required for each case and its outcome.

 

While your application is pending, you are authorized to remain in the US. You can also seek education and pursue work opportunities, although you may face difficulties finding long-term work with a pending asylum application.

 

Depending on the strength of your case, you may get REFs (Requests for Evidence) or requests for additional information. Make sure you comply with any request and reply as quickly as possible.

 

asylum lawyer
asylum lawyer

6. Appeals and Denials and How an Asylum Lawyer Can Help


Itโ€™s a fact that many applications are denied, and some people simply give up at this point. However, there is an appeal process, and it is possible to get a denial overturned.

 

If you followed the correct procedure, filed Form I-589, and attended the asylum interview, your denied claim should be referred to the Immigration Court for a hearing with an Immigration Judge. You can then file additional evidence and documents, make a new testimonial, and have witnesses testify on your behalf. An immigration lawyer asylum expert can attend this hearing to fight your corner.

 

If your case is still dismissed after the court hearing, you and your asylum lawyer can appeal to the BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals). You must do this within 30 days of your Immigration Court hearing. If still denied, your case can be taken to the Federal Court of Appeals and finally, the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Your Application for Asylum Starts With Understanding

 

You should now have a clear idea of how to apply for asylum in USA, including the eligibility criteria and where to start. Understanding the process, expectations, and requirements is the building blocks for a successful asylum application and we advise familiarizing yourself with every step before taking action.

 

The services of a professional asylum attorney are also invaluable throughout this process. Their specialized knowledge of US asylum law and procedures ensures you get everything right, including completing Form I-589, attending the interview, and making appeals if necessary.

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