When an undocumented immigrant enters the U.S. seeking protection from the government because they have suffered persecution or fear they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group, or political opinion, they can apply for asylum. If you or someone you know recently entered the U.S. and want to apply for asylum, you should know there are two ways an immigrant can do so.
The first method is called affirmative asylum, and this is for individuals who have not been placed in removal proceedings. For those who have been placed in removal proceedings, they would need to apply for defensive asylum. While this article is going to focus on the affirmative asylum process, you can always contact Passaic, NJ asylum attorney Eric M. Mark if you have any questions or need assistance with applying for either affirmative or defensive asylum.
Understanding the Affirmative Asylum Process
The following steps are those USCIS says you will likely go through after you have applied for asylum.
Step 1: Applying for Asylum
To apply for asylum, you will need to file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with USCIS within one year of your arrival to the U.S. When submitting Form I-589, you do not need to submit a completed fingerprint card (FD-258) or fingerprint fee with your application as USCIS will still accept it without it. After USCIS receives your application, you should receive two notices which include:
- An acknowledgment that your application has been received.
- Notice to visit your nearest application support center (ASC) for fingerprinting.
Step 2: Attend Your Fingerprinting Appointment
After receiving your ASC Appointment Notice, be sure to read it carefully and take it with you when it comes time to attend your appointment. As an asylum applicant, you are not required to pay a fingerprinting fee. In the event you are requesting asylum status for your spouse and/or children and they present in the U.S., be sure they attend the ASC appointment with you.
Step 3: Receive Interview Notice
USCIS will schedule you for an interview with an asylum officer at an asylum office or a USCIS field office depending on where you are living and send you a notice that contains the date, location, and time of your asylum interview. USCIS has stated that “workload priorities related to border enforcement may affect [their] ability to schedule all new applications for an interview within 21 days” so if you find your application is taking longer than expected, contact an asylum attorney in Passaic, NJ.
Step 4: Attending the Interview
To ensure you are prepared for the interview, we recommend you hire a Passaic, NJ immigration attorney who can prep you for the interview and attend with you. If your spouse or child is seeking derivative asylum benefits, USCIS says they must attend the interview as well. In the event you need an interpreter, it is your responsibility to bring one with you.
Step 5: An Asylum Officer Will Make a Decision Regarding Your Case
After reviewing all the information that was provided on your application and during your interview, the asylum officer will determine whether you:
- Are eligible to apply for asylum.
- Are considered to be a refugee.
- Are barred from being granted asylum.
After the asylum officer has made a decision on your case, “a supervisory asylum officer [will] review 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.”
Step 6: Receive Decision
In most cases, you will need to return to the asylum office to pick up the decision two weeks after you have been interviewed by an asylum officer. However, USCIS says it may take longer to process your application if you:
- Are currently in valid immigration status.
- Had your interview conducted at a USCIS field office.
- Have pending security checks.
- Have a case that is currently being reviewed by asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters.
After your application has been reviewed, a decision should be mailed to you.
Who is not eligible to apply for asylum?
USCIS states that a person may not qualify to apply for asylum if:
- They failed to follow the one-year filing deadline for Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. USCIS calculates this one-year deadline from the date of your last arrival in the U.S.
- You submitted an asylum application in the past, but it was denied by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
- There is a possibility that you can be relocated to “a safe third country under a two-party or multi-party agreement between the United States and other countries.”
Will I be able to remain in the U.S. while waiting for the court to decide on my asylum case?
Typically, if an immigrant is eligible for asylum, they are permitted to remain in the U.S. with their spouse and children. However, immigration policies are changing at a rapid rate and many who are seeking asylum are being moved to other countries rather than being given the opportunity to wait in the U.S. while their application is being processed. Therefore, if you are living in Passaic, NJ or a nearby city and wish to apply for asylum, it is best that you hire a Passaic, NJ asylum law firm to can help you with the application process.
The Law Office of Eric M. Mark is located at:
Jersey City Office
121 Newark Avenue, Suite 515
Jersey City, NJ 07302
201 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
20 Commerce Drive, Ste. 135
Cranford, NJ 07016