Asylum in the United States is a potential avenue for protection for individuals facing persecution in their home country based on factors such as race, religion, nationality, social group and/or political opinion. Asylum serves as a legal means to stay in the United States and, after a year, allows for the application for permanent residence (a Green Card). But, with all the news about people seeking asylum incorrectly, what are the appropriate pathways for those in danger to seek asylum?
The Affirmative Process
Geared towards those not in removal proceedings, the Affirmative Process involves several key steps. First, it is for those already physically present in the United States. Second, submit Form I-589, the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within 1 year of the latest arrival in the U.S., with exceptions for exceptional circumstances. After the USCIS receives the Form I-589, they will schedule an interview. Attend the non-adversarial interview with a USCIS asylum officer.
Finally, you will receive a decision within 180 days post-filing, unless delays arise. If approved, benefits include an approval notice, an Employment Authorization Document, eligibility for a Social Security card, a refugee travel document and the ability to sponsor immediate family members to join in the U.S.
If the application is denied, individuals receive either a notice of intent to deny or a referral notice to an immigration judge. This affords the applicant an opportunity to renew the claim in removal proceedings.
The Asylum Merits Interview
This process is designed for those subjected to expedited removal with a credible fear determination. The Asylum Merits Interview entails being physically present in the U.S. You must participate in an interview with a USCIS asylum officer. And, you will receive a decision within 180 days post-credible fear determination, barring delays. Results mirror those of the affirmative process, offering approval benefits or a referral notice to an immigration judge in case of denial.
The Defensive Process
This process is tailored for individuals in removal proceedings. The Defensive Process involves your physical presence in the United States. Next, you must submit the Form I-589 to the immigration judge, if not on file with USCIS. Next, attend a hearing before an immigration judge, and receive a decision from the immigration judge. Approved applications yield benefits akin to those from the affirmative or merits interview processes, while denials result in an order of removal with a 30-day window for an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.