What is Asylum and How Long Does the Asylum Process Take in the United States?
In this blog, we will explore the question ‘What is asylum?’ and the asylum process in the United States
What is asylum and how long does the asylum process take?
The asylum process in the United States can be long and complicated.
Research suggests that nearly 1.6 million asylum applications are pending in U.S. immigration courts and at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to U.S. asylum laws, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should conduct the asylum interview within 45 days after the application is filed and decide on the asylum application within 180 days of the application being filed unless there are exceptional circumstances that arise.
However, this timeline is not strictly practiced because asylum seekers arrive in large numbers, there are cases backlogs, and there are not enough resources to process all of the cases. Attorneys call this the “asylum vortex”. Many asylum seekers often wait for years.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes to obtain asylum, as each case is unique.
Here’s an overview of how the asylum process usually works and some general steps all asylum seekers must go through to be granted protection in the United States.
What is Asylum?
Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who fear persecution in their home country due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
If you are in the United States but not in removal or deportation proceedings, you can apply for asylum by following these steps:
Step 1: Apply for Asylum with USCIS
The first step in the asylum process is to submit an application for asylum with USCIS. You must file your application within one year of your arrival in the United States, unless you can demonstrate extraordinary circumstances that prevented you from filing within the one-year deadline.
Step 2: USCIS Review
After receiving your application, USCIS will conduct an initial review to determine whether you meet the basic requirements for asylum. These requirements include:
You must have a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country. The persecution must be based on one or more of the protected grounds mentioned above.
You must be unable or unwilling to return to your home country because of the persecution.
If USCIS determines that you meet these basic requirements, they will schedule an interview with an immigration officer.
Step 3: Immigration Officer Interview
During the interview, the immigration officer will ask you questions about your application and gather more information about your case. The officer will also assess your credibility and asylum eligibility.
Step 4: Decision on Asylum
After the interview, the immigration officer will make a decision on your asylum application. If the officer grants asylum, you will be allowed to stay in the United States and eventually apply for permanent residency status.
However, if your asylum application is denied, you may be subject to removal proceedings.
What is the Asylum process if you are in removal or deportation proceedings?
The asylum process if you are in removal proceedings can be complex and challenging.
Here is a general overview of the process:
- Filing an Asylum Application
The first step in the asylum process is to file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are in removal proceedings, you will need to file your application with the immigration court where your case is being heard. You will need to submit a completed Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, along with any supporting documentation.
- Master Calendar Hearing
After filing your application, you will receive a notice to appear for a master calendar hearing. At this hearing, the immigration judge will determine whether you are eligible for asylum and set a schedule for your case.
- Individual Hearing
If your case proceeds, you will have an individual hearing before the immigration judge. At this hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence and testify about why you are seeking asylum. You may also be represented by an attorney, although you are not required to have one.
After the individual hearing, the immigration judge will make a decision on your asylum application. If the judge grants your application, you will be allowed to stay in the United States as a refugee. If the judge denies your application, you may be ordered removed from the United States.
If your application is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the judge’s decision. The BIA will review your case and issue a decision.
- Further Appeal
If the BIA upholds the immigration judge’s decision, you may be able to appeal further to a federal court.
It is important to note that the asylum process can vary depending on the specifics of your case, and that it can be complicated and time-consuming.
If you are in removal proceedings and seeking asylum, it may be helpful to consult with our experienced immigration attorneys who can guide you through the process and help protect your rights.
If you need help with your deportation case, book a consultation today to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.