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If you are seeking a form of protection from being persecuted in your home country, you may be wondering how to apply for the political asylum process in the USA.

If you are persecuted, in addition to applying for political asylum, you may also be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Our immigration lawyers in New Jersey can help you with this type of process. Call today and speak with our team of experienced immigration law professionals.

How To Request And apply to the asylum process in the USA in 2024

Every year in the United States, a large number of people seek protection in the country. In general, these people are persecuted for the following reasons:

  • Religion.
  • Race.
  • Political opinion.
  • Social group.
  • Nationality.

To apply for the asylum process in the USA, you must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal within 1 year from the date you arrived in the US.

You will also be able to include your spouse and children who are in the US on your application. If accepted, you, your spouse and children will be able to get a Green Card one year after your asylum application is granted.

Keep in mind that depending on your situation, the way you apply for political asylum in the United States will change. Later we will explain the asylum process in the USA in detail.

What Is Political Asylum In The United States?

Political asylum is a protection that allows the applicant to remain in the United States instead of being deported to their country of origin in the event of being persecuted or harmed.

If you are eligible for asylum and if you are in removal proceedings, you may apply for cancellation of removal. US immigration law allows anyone who flees their country for reasons of persecution to apply for asylum. 

steps to apply for political asylum in the united states

Benefits Of Political Asylum In The US

People who manage to obtain asylum status may enjoy the following benefits when requesting it:

In our dedicated sections you will learn how to get a job in the United States illegally and learn all about the PERM labor certification

Types Of Asylum 

There are 2 procedures for applying for the asylum process in the USA. One is used when you are physically in the country and the other is used when you enter the country on a nonimmigrant visa. 

There are also 2 types of asylum in the US which are:

Affirmative Asylum

Affirmative asylum is an application that can only be requested by people who are not in removal proceedings. It is requested before the USCIS office.

If for any reason USCIS does not approve your asylum application, you will need to apply for asylum through a defensive process.

Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling

Since January 29, 2018, priority is given to the most recent affirmative asylum applications in order to give more opportunities to those who are in deportation proceedings.

USCIS schedules an asylum interview in order of priority:

First priority. Applications that have been scheduled for an interview. However, the interview was rescheduled by order of USCIS or the applicant.

Second priority. Applications have been on hold for 21 days or less from the date they were submitted. 

Third priority. The remaining affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for an interview. It will be scheduled from the most recent requests to the oldest.

Defensive Asylum

Those who are in removal proceedings can apply for asylum through defensive asylum. Generally, detained undocumented aliens may be eligible for this application and also those denied by USCIS to obtain affirmative asylum.

The name “defensive asylum” comes from being a defense resource against removal from US territory.

The immigration judge can deny your asylum petition (affirmative or defensive), but you can appeal your immigration case. However, if the appeal is also denied, you will not be able to return to the US.

Political Asylum For Immediate Relatives

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for asylum. Even if they are inside or outside the country.

request for asylum in the usa

We invite you to visit our section dedicated to consular processing and adjustment of status in the United States.

To petition your family members for asylum, you must file Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. You must file the petition within 2 years from the date the asylum was granted.

In the case of spouses, the law states that they must be married when the application is filed. 

You can get more information in our sections dedicated to:

Other Forms Of Protection 

There are other ways to obtain protection in the US, including:

Likewise, there are also: A witholding of removal and the protection under the Committee Against Torture (CAT). These are used on the same Form I-589. Below we will detail these 2 ways of protection:

Withholding Of Removal 

If you do not qualify for asylum, you may be eligible for withholding of removal. The deferment does not give you a Green Card, but you will be able to legally stay and work in the country.

To apply for this protection, you must show that you will suffer future persecution if you return to your country of origin or that your life is in danger. As long as it is for the same reasons to be eligible for asylum.

t visa requirements

If you were a victim of human trafficking or smuggling, you may be eligible to apply for a T visa.

Protection Under CAT

If you fear suffering torture in your home country, you may qualify for relief under CAT protection. You must show that you will be tortured directly by the government of your country of origin. 

If you have been the victim of torture, assault, or other physical or psychological violence, you may be eligible for a U visa.

Types Of Political Asylum Decisions 

USCIS will make a decision after you file the asylum application. These can be:

Asylum Granted 

USCIS determined that you are eligible for asylum, you will receive a letter and Form I-94 stating that you have been granted asylum in the US.

Your immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) will be included in the asylum process in the USA if:

  • You proved that you have a relationship with them.
  • They have been present in the USA.
  • They have been included in the asylum request.

You and your immediate family members who have been approved for asylum will get all of your benefits. Although asylum in the US does not expire, USCIS can cancel your asylum status if you:

  • Obtained protection in another country.
  • Obtained asylum approval through fraudulent actions.
  • No longer fear being persecuted in your country of origin. 
  • Committed crimes that violate immigration law or criminal law in the United States.

For more information on criminal acts, visit our section dedicated to Crimmigration.

Asylum Referred To An Immigration Court 

If USCIS cannot approve the asylum application and you are in the US illegally, the case will be sent to immigration court. Family members of the applicant will also be referred if they are:

  • In the US illegally.
  • Included in the asylum application.

Being referred does not mean being rejected. The case is sent for further evaluation where it is reviewed by the immigration court. 

If your application is denied, you will be sent a letter explaining why and a Form I-862, Notice to Appear indicating the date and time you must appear in court. 

USCIS may submit the application to immigration court if:

  • DHS previously submitted an NTA that could not be filed or placed on the EOIR list.
  • DHS previously issued an NTA, was filed, and was placed on the EOIR list after filing with USCIS.
  • DHS sent you Form I-862 and you filed the asylum application 21 business days or less after the NTA was filed and placed on the EOIR list.

Notice Of Intent To Deny 

In some circumstances, you may receive a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if you have legal status in the US but are not eligible for asylum. The notice details the reasons why you have not been eligible to apply for asylum.

However, you will have 16 days to explain (in writing) why you should be granted asylum status. If you do not respond within the established 16 days, your asylum process and application in the USA will be rejected.


You will receive a NOID or denial letter if:

  • You did not respond to the NOID within 16 days.
  • The new information you submit in response to the NOID does not overcome the reasons presented by USCIS.

You cannot appeal the USCIS decision, but you can reapply for another asylum petition if you show that the circumstances that affected your eligibility have changed.

Steps To Apply For Affirmative Political Asylum In The US

Individuals applying for affirmative political asylum process in the USA will need to take the following steps:

Step 1#: Be In The United States

The first step is for you to be physically present in the US or find a way to enter the United States at a port of entry.

how can an illegal immigrant become legal in the U. S.

You may be interested in reviewing our related article: I am illegal in the USA and I want to become legal. It will give you many of the keys you need to better understand the US immigration system.

Step 2# Apply For Asylum process in the USA

  • To apply for asylum, you must file Form I-589 with USCIS before you have been in the US for 1 year.
    • If you do not submit the form, you will not be eligible to apply for asylum.
  • Your application will be accepted without the need to submit a fingerprint card.
  • Depending on where you live in the US, you will need to file your asylum application at the appropriate address.
  • Once USCIS receives the request, you will receive 2 notifications:
    • Acknowledgment of receipt of request.
    • Notice to visit the Application Support Center (ASC) to take your fingerprints. 

Step 3# Fingerprinting And Background Check

  • Bring the ASC Appointment Notice with you to your biometrics appointment.
  • You will not have to pay any biometric data fee.
  • If you applied for your spouse and children, they will need to come with you to the ASC appointment.

Step 4# Wait For The Interview Notification

  • Depending on where you reside, USCIS will schedule an interview with an asylum officer for you. 
  • The notice for the interview will tell you the place, time and date.
  • USCIS schedules interviews based on their priority.

Step 5# Go To The Interview

  • If you wish, you may bring your attorney or authorized legal representative to the interview. 
  • It is important that the spouse and child who seek to obtain asylum benefits attend the interview.
  • If you cannot attend the interview in English, you may bring an interpreter. 
  • The interview usually lasts about 1 hour. But the duration varies depending on your filed case.

Step 6# Your Eligibility Is Determined 

  • The asylum officer will determine if you:
    • Are eligible to apply for political asylum.
    • Meet the definition of asylee under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA)
    • Are not eligible for asylum under Section 208(b)(2) of the INA.

Step 7# Wait For The Decision

Generally, within 2 weeks of the interview, you must return to the asylum office to get the decision.

You may need additional processing time if you:

  • Were interviewed by a local officer.
  • Are under a valid immigration status. 
  • Have a case that is under review by a task force at USCIS.
  • Were previously interviewed at a USCIS office.
  • Have security checks in process. 

In these circumstances, a decision in your case will be mailed to you. Either way, you can check your case status online through the USCIS website.

Steps To Apply For Defensive Asylum process In The USA

defensive asylum in the united states

Generally, aliens under defensive asylum can apply if:

  • They are in removal proceedings. Whether if:
    • They are arrested in the US for not having the necessary documentation or violating their immigration status, or;
    • They are arrested by CBP when they tried to enter the US for being undocumented and the asylum officer determined that they were being persecuted or tortured in their country of origin.
  • They are referred by USCIS after the affirmative asylum application because they are not eligible for asylum. 

Where To Submit The Application For Political Asylum In The United States?

Asylum applications must be submitted based on the state where you are located. On the official Form I-589 page you will find a table with all updated addresses.

How To Prepare For The Asylum Interview?

Before you go to your asylum interview appointment with USCIS, you should bring the following with you:

  • Documentation that identifies you. It can be any of the following:
    • Passport.
    • Form I-94.
    • Other travel documents. 
  • Copy of Form I-589.
    • You must also submit any additional material you have previously submitted.
  • Original certification of your birth, marriage, or other document previously submitted with Form I-589.
  • An additional document that proves your claim and that has not been submitted with your application.
  • A professional interpreter, in case you cannot communicate in the English language.
    • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain applicants may request USCIS interpreters over the phone. This interpreter requirement rule will be in effect until March 16, 2022.
  • If your children under the age of 21 and/or your spouse are included in your application, you must submit the following in your application:
    • Any identity document or other evidence of identification. 
    • You should only bring family members who are included in the application to your asylum interview.
    • Certified translation of any document that is not in the English language.
    • If you bring an interpreter, you must certify that they are competent to translate the language.

You may bring your attorney or authorized legal representative to the interview. To do so, you must file with USCIS Form G-28, Notice of Representation as Attorney or Authorized Representative.

What To Expect From The Interview?

The interview usually lasts about an hour. But it depends on the type of case you are filing. You should note that:

  • You will be asked to take an oath that you will tell the truth throughout the interview.
  • If you bring an interpreter, the interpreter must be placed under oath to interpret everything accurately.
  • The officer in charge will verify your identity and ask for your biographical information in case of any impediment. 
  • You must talk about your experiences for which you require asylum.

All information you share at the asylum interview will be kept confidential. Relational information cannot be shared with third parties without authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.

Asylum Interview And/Or NACARA Via Video Or Call For Attorneys Or Representatives

If you have an interview appointment at one of these offices:

  • Arlington.
  • Boston.
  • Chicago.
  • Houston.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Miami.
  • Newark.
  • Newark/Manhattan Branch.
  • New Orleans.
  • New York.
  • San Francisco.
  • Tampa.

And you have a lawyer or authorized representative who can help you in your interview, you can do it through a call or Internet connection. Please note that this is a temporary program, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

To participate in this program, they must choose one of the following documents:

How To Prove Good Cause Or Exceptional Circumstances?

Now that you know how to apply for political asylum in the United States, it is important that you prove good cause or exceptional circumstances. 

What Is Good Cause?

Good cause is defined as a reasonable excuse if you did not appear for your asylum interview with USCIS. 

If you reschedule an interview, you must show good cause in the following cases:

  • You changed the date before the scheduled date.
  • You changed the date the same day.
  • You changed the date within 45 days after the interview date.

You should also be aware if:

  • You manage to show good cause. The office will reschedule the interview and notify you of a date, time, and location. If there is an unresolved backlog, USCIS may deny your application.
  • If you fail to show good cause. USCIS will deny your application in writing and your case will be considered a lost interview.

What Is An Exceptional Circumstance?

An exceptional circumstance is a situation that allows a person to be regularized without taking into account certain situations. However, exceptional circumstances are limited to only the examples provided by INA 240(e)(1).

The office will review the circumstances and the facts you submit to determine if you meet the exceptional circumstances.

If you cannot prove an exceptional circumstance, then the office will issue you a Denial of Request to Reschedule Asylum Interview.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Asylum process In The USA

What Happens If I Do Not Attend The Asylum Interview?

If you do not attend the interview, you will receive a no-show warning letter explaining the consequences of your absence and how to reschedule the interview.

  • If you submit the reschedule request within 45 days of your absence. You must demonstrate good cause for absence.
  • If you submit the reschedule request more than 45 days after your absence. You will need to prove exceptional circumstances for your absence. 

If 46 days have passed and you have not submitted an interview reschedule request and you:

  • You are not in lawful immigration status. USCIS will refer your case to an Immigration Judge to file the EOIR and will send you a Notice of Non-Appearance Referral. 
  • You are in lawful immigration status. USCIS will close your case and send you a Notice of Denial.

USCIS will consider your absence an applicant-cause delay. If it remains unresolved on the day you submit an Employment Authorization, your application will be denied.

How To Reschedule An Interview?

To reschedule an interview you must:

  • Send a letter by regular mail, email or fax, or;
  • Go in person to the office and complete the request to reschedule an appointment.
  • The asylum office does not accept rescheduling requests made by phone. 
  • In the rescheduling request you must include the reason you are requesting a rescheduling.
  • USCIS will notify you in writing whether or not it decides to reschedule your interview. 
  • You must show that the rescheduling request is for good cause or an exceptional circumstance.

Exceptional circumstances are all those that have greater weight than justified causes. 

What If I Don’t Speak English?

If you do not speak English, you must bring a qualified interpreter with you. USCIS does not provide interpreters unless you are hard of hearing or deaf. The interpreter you bring must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be fluent in both your language and English.

The following people may NOT be interpreters:

  • Your attorney or authorized representative.
  • A witness.
  • Employee or representative of the government of your country of origin. 

If you cannot speak English and do not bring a competent interpreter to your interview, your interview will be canceled and rescheduled for a later date. 

What Happens If My Attorney Cannot Attend The Interview?

If you file Form G-28 and your attorney is not present, you may sign a waiver to proceed with the interview without an attorney.

You may also agree to be referred to an Immigration Court. However, it is important that you make sure your attorney is present at the interview.

What If I Am At The US-Mexico Border?

If you are on the US-Mexico border, to get asylum you must prove that you are persecuted or harassed and your government has failed to protect you. 

The more evidence you have, the greater your chances of winning your case. You must ensure that you always tell the truth, otherwise your case may be immediately dismissed.

Lawyers by your side throughout the entire Asylum Process In The United States

Knowing how to apply for the asylum process in the USA can be complex. If you are looking for the best immigration attorneys in New Jersey, at the Curbelo Law firm in Ridgewood and Newark, you will be able to get complete legal assistance to represent you in all types of immigration cases, including the asylum process.

We have over 10 years of experience in Latino immigration cases, so we will be with you throughout this process. We will analyze your case and determine your opportunities to remain in the United States through asylum.

Call today so that our attorneys can assist you and begin to analyze your case in depth.