Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
Can I Stay Back in the United States if I am Eligible for Asylum?
- If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States
- To apply for asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States
- There is no fee to apply for asylum
Can I Include My Spouse and Children?
- You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case
- To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. For more information see our Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal page
- If you have an asylum application pending with the USCIS, you can check your case status online. All you need is the receipt number that we mailed you after you filed your application
Start here: uscis.gov/casestatus
Can I Bring my Spouse and My Children to The United States After Receiving Asylum?
- If you are granted asylum you may petition to bring your spouse and children to the United States by filing a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried
- You must file the petition within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline
- There is no fee to file this petition
When Can I File for Permanent Residency?
- U.S. immigration law allows asylees to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year since being granted asylum
- To apply for a Green Card, file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
- You must submit a separate I-485 application packet for yourself and, if applicable, for each family member who received derivative asylum based on your case
- For more information about Green Cards, see USCIS’s Green Cards for Asylees page
However, you will not be eligible to apply for asylum if you: ·
Filed your application after being in the United States for more than one year
However, you may still qualify for an exception if you show the following:
- changed circumstances materially affecting your asylum eligibility for asylum or
- extraordinary circumstances relating to your delay in filing
- You must still file your application within a reasonable time under the circumstances to be eligible for an exception
Changed circumstances may include but are not limited to:
- Changes in conditions in your country of nationality or, if you are stateless, your country of last habitual residence
- Changes in your circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum, including changes in applicable U.S. law and activities you become involved in outside the country of feared persecution that place you at risk
- If you were previously included as a dependent in someone else’s pending asylum application, the loss of the spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal applicant through marriage, divorce, death, or attainment of age 21
Extraordinary circumstances may include but are not limited to: ·
- Serious illness or mental or physical disability, including any effects of persecution or violent harm suffered in the past, during the 1-year period after your arrival in the U.S.
- Legal disability, such as your status as an unaccompanied minor or you suffered from a mental impairment, during the 1-year period after your arrival in the U.S.
Ineffective assistance of counsel, if:
- You file an affidavit explaining in detail the agreement that you had with your lawyer about the actions to be taken by your lawyer on your behalf and what your lawyer told you he or she would do for you
- You have informed the lawyer whom you are criticizing of the accusations against him or her and the lawyer has been given an opportunity to respond
- You indicate whether you have filed a complaint with appropriate disciplinary authorities about any violation of your lawyer’s ethical or legal responsibilities, and if not, why not
- You had Temporary Protected Status (TPS), lawful immigrant or nonimmigrant status, or you were given parole, until a reasonable period before you filed your asylum application
- You filed an asylum application before the expiration of the 1-year deadline, but USCIS rejected your application as not properly filed, returned the application to you for corrections, and you re-filed your application within a reasonable time after the return
- The death or serious illness or incapacity of your legal representative or a member of your immediate family
- You will also be barred from applying for asylum if you previously applied for asylum and were denied by the Immigration Judge or Board of Immigration Appeals unless you demonstrate that there are changed circumstances that affect your eligibility for asylum
- You will also be barred if you could be removed to a safe third country to a two-party or multi-party agreement
- Currently, the United States has a safe third country agreement with Canada that does not apply to you if you are applying for asylum affirmatively with USCIS
- The agreement only applies in Credible Fear Screenings
- For more information about the safe third country agreement with Canada, see the Questions & Answers: Credible Fear Screenings page
- For more information about bars to applying, see the Asylum Bars page
Information your asylum-related information may not be shared with third parties without the asylum applicant’s written consent or the Secretary of Homeland Security’s specific authorization
When Can I Apply for Naturalization?
- If you were granted asylum in the United States, a maximum of one year of your time in asylee status counts as permanent residence
- Please note, if you waited longer than a year to apply for your green card, that extra time will not count towards your naturalization
- You can also turn in your USCIS Form N-400 (Citizenship Application) 90 days before your required years of permanent residence have passed. This 90-day period compensates for the fact that USCIS might not act on your application (or call you in for an interview) for at least that amount of time
Your Immigration File
- · It gives U.S. Immigration Citizenship Services (USCIS) another chance to review your immigration file and your life events after you received the asylum
- If you recently obtained U.S. asylum, be mindful of this possibility and ensure that you do not do anything that could hurt your future citizenship
- And If you are ready to apply for naturalization now, you should carefully consider and address any of these issues that might apply to you
USCIS will Recheck Whether or not Your Asylum Claim was Bona Fide?
- When USCIS reviews a former asylee’s application for naturalization, it wants to make sure that the person’s underlying asylum claim was bonafide
- USCIS might look closely at the person’s naturalization application and history in the United States to make sure that it is consistent with the reasons he or she requested asylum
- For example, if a man requested asylum because he feared persecution in his home country based on his sexual preference of liking a same-sex partner
- But he married a woman instead of a man
- USCIS might wonder if he lied about his sexual orientation on his asylum application
- If a Christian pastor fled his home country because the government was persecuting Christians, but now is a practicing Muslim
- USCIS could believe that he lied about his religion to receive asylum
- In both of these cases, the underlying asylum claim might truly be bona fide, and the person’s life might simply have changed significantly since the application for asylum
- Nevertheless, USCIS will look closely at the application and could deny it if the applicant cannot offer a strong explanation for the discrepancies
- You should be able to explain such changes is by providing corroborating documentation
Include a letter explaining the change in life circumstances along with your application.
USCIS Will Examine Your Travel History
- If a person travels back to his or her home country after receiving asylum, USCIS could suspect that that person did not actually fear persecution when applying for asylum
- Frequent travel to the home country might make USCIS very suspicious
- If you have traveled back to your home country at all since receiving asylum, you will need to explain to USCIS why you did so (perhaps for an urgent matter that outweighed the risks) and show that the underlying risk of persecution on your asylum application was real
Finally, think about why you traveled to your home country, and prepare to show the USCIS why that travel should not undercut your initial asylum eligibility
Provide copies of any documentation that proves your explanation.
USCIS May Look for Your Name on the INTERPOL List of Criminals and Terrorists
- Occasionally, a person receives asylum in the United States and later appears on the Interpol “wanted person” list
- The person might appear on the list due to having committed a crime in the home country, or due to mistaken identity, or because of involvement in a terrorist organization, even without having known it was a terrorist organization at the time
- USCIS takes the Interpol “wanted person” list seriously
- If your name is on it, even if the reason was a mistake, it could seriously impact your naturalization case
If you believe that you could be on the Interpol “wanted person” list, contact an immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options.
USCIS Will Want to See That You Registered for the Selective Service
- Every male U.S. citizen or immigrant between the ages of 18 and 25 is required to register for the Selective Service
- That means filling out a form that provides your name and address in case the United States ever needs to rapidly expand the armed forces in an emergency
This failure can affect a person’s application for naturalization.
USCIS Will Look for Inconsistencies Between Your Application for Naturalization and for Asylum
A common problem for former asylees who are now applying for naturalization is that they make statements on their N-400 Application for Naturalization that are different from either the information they gave on their I-589 Application for Asylum or in their testimony when applying for asylum.
Some of the most common types of inconsistencies are:
- Failure to list all of the organizations and groups the person claimed to be a member of on the asylum application
- Claiming relatives on Form N-400 that the applicant did not claim on the asylum application, and
- Checking “No” on any of the questions involving criminal activity or arrests when the persecution in the asylum application involved arrests or criminal charges in the individual’s home country
Your first step is to accurately fill out your Form N-400
If, however, any such inconsistencies reflect actual facts in your case, you should explain to the USCIS officer about those discrepancies
Certain inconsistencies could result in a bar to naturalization or cast doubt on the statements you made in your underlying asylum application
You should also be aware of red flags in general before submitting an N-400, application for naturalization
A detailed discussion about those red flags can be found here