• Kaefer Garcia

The Process and Key Steps in Applying for Affirmative Asylum


If you want to obtain affirmative asylum, you must be physically present in the United States. The law allows you to apply for asylum despite your current immigration status or how you arrived in the United States. However, you only have up to one (1) year after you arrive in the country to apply for affirmative asylum. The only exception is when you can show proof that:

  • Your circumstances changed, and they materially affected your eligibility for asylum, or you have special reasons that delayed your ability to file for asylum.

  • You started the application process within a reasonable time frame given the above circumstances.

Process for Applying for Affirmative Asylum

Here's what the process entails for affirmative asylum:


Step 1: Arrive in the United States

You must be physically present in the United States to start the asylum application process.


Step 2: Start the Application Process

The next step is to file Form I-589, which also withholds you from possible deportation. You may not be eligible for the application if you don't file the form within a year of arrival in the United States. This is according to section 208(a)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of the immigration law.

Once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives your completed application, you'll get two notifications:

  • An acknowledgment of your application's receipt

  • Notice to go to the nearest application support center (ASC) to have your fingerprints taken

You may not qualify to apply for asylum if:

  • You previously sought asylum but the Board of Immigration Appeals or an immigration judge denied it.

  • Did not adhere to the one-year filing deadline for the relevant application form. The deadline also falls one year from the last arrival in the United States, or April 1, 1997, whichever comes last.

  • You stand a chance of being moved to a safe third country based on a two-party or multi-party agreement between the U.S. and other nations.

Step 3: Fingerprint Taking and Security Checks

Take a copy of the ASC notice with you as you go for your fingerprinting appointment. You also won't have to pay the fee for fingerprinting as an asylum seeker. Bring your spouse and children along if they're also seeking asylum and are in the U.S.


Step 4: Receive an Interview Notice

USCIS will schedule an interview with you in one of their offices. The notice captures the date, time, as well as location of the interview, which USCIS schedules in this priority order:

  • First priority: Applicants rescheduled for another interview after the first one failed to happen at the applicant's request.

  • Second priority: Applications pending for 21 days or less after filing.

  • Third priority: All other pending applications, starting with newer filings.

USCIS will also consider urgent cases one by one for an interview outside the above priority order.


Step 5: Interview

You can bring an immigration attorney or an accredited representative with you to the interview. Additionally, your children and spouse must be present if they seek derivative affirmative asylum benefits. An interpreter can also accompany you if you don't speak English.


Step 6: Decision


Step 7: Receive the Decision

In most cases, you will pick up the decision from the asylum office within two (2) weeks after the interview. The period may be longer if:

  • The interview happened at a USCIS office.

  • You currently have valid immigration status.

  • The security checks are pending.

  • Have a pending case that needs the review of the USCIS staff at headquarters.

In such a case, the officers will mail the decision to you.


For more information on asylum applications feel free to reach out to our experienced immigration attorneys at Garcia Law. We would be happy to assist you in your asylum journey.


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