Affirmative Asylum Process


Arrive in the U.S.

To apply for asylum in the U.S., you must be physically present in the U.S.


Apply for Asylum

To apply for asylum, you should file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with USCIS within 1 year of your last arrival in the United States (unless you qualify for an exception to the 1-year filing deadline).


Get Fingerprinted

You should read the ASC Appointment Notice and take it with you to your fingerprinting appointment at the ASC. You do not need to pay a fingerprinting fee as an asylum applicant.

If you are also requesting asylum status for your spouse and children and they are with you in the United States, they will need to go with you to your ASC appointment.

More information is available on the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment page.


Interview Notice

Depending on where you live, we will schedule you for an interview with an asylum officer at either a USCIS asylum office or a USCIS field office (also called a circuit ride location). For more information about USCIS field and asylum offices, visit our Find A USCIS Office page. Your interview notice will tell you the date, location, and time of your asylum interview.

As of Jan. 29, 2018, the USCIS Asylum Division is scheduling asylum interviews in the following order of priority:*

1st priority: Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS; 2nd priority: Applications that have been pending 21 days or less since filing; 3rd priority: All other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings. *This scheduling approach was first established following the asylum reforms of 1995 (PDF, 22.31 KB), and was in place previously for 20 years.

See Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling for more information.


Attend Interview

You may bring an attorney or accredited representative to the interview. You must also bring your spouse and any children seeking derivative asylum benefits to the interview. If you cannot proceed with the interview in English you must bring an interpreter. The interview will generally last about 1 hour, although the time may vary depending on the case. You may also bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. For more information about your asylum interview, see our Web page on Preparing for Your Asylum Interview.


Asylum Officer Makes Determination

You must meet the definition of a refugee in order to be eligible for asylum. The asylum officer will determine whether you: Are eligible to apply for asylum; Meet the definition of a refugee in section 101(a)(42)(A) of the INA; and Are barred from being granted asylum under section 208(b)(2) of the INA. A supervisory asylum officer reviews the asylum officer’s decision to ensure it is consistent with the law.

Depending on the case, the supervisory asylum officer may refer the decision to asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters for additional review. If you are also requesting asylum status for your spouse and children and they are with you in the United States, they will need to go with you to your ASC appointment.


Receive Decision

In most cases, you will return to the asylum office to pick up the decision 2 weeks after the asylum officer interviewed you.
Longer processing times may be required if you:

Are currently in valid immigration status;
Were interviewed at a USCIS field office;
Have pending security checks; or
Have a case that is being reviewed by asylum division staff at USCIS

USCIS will normally mail your decision to you in these situations.