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Frequently Asked Questions About Asylum


For an overview of the steps involved see the following:
How To Apply And Eligibility Background/Security Checks Asylum Interview Decisions On Asylum Claims Other


How To Apply And Eligibility
    Who is Eligible to Apply?

    Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, whether you are in the United States legally or illegally.

    You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, but you may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year. These may include certain changes in the conditions in your country, certain changes in your own circumstances, and certain other events. For a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may be considered changed or extraordinary circumstances, see 8 CFR 208.4. You must apply for asylum within a reasonable time given those circumstances. See Ineligibility to Apply for Asylum.

    You will 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 which materially affect your eligibility for asylum. You will also be barred if you could be removed to a safe third country pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement. See INA 208(a)(2) and Ineligibility to Apply for Asylum.


    How Do I Apply?
    To apply for asylum, you will need to complete Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and follow the instructions carefully. The form I-589 is available here. Forms are also available by clicking on the link, by calling the forms request line at 1-800-870-3676, or by submitting a request through our forms by mail system. The table below summarizes where you will need to file your Form I-589. See 8 CFR 208.4(b).


    Circumstance Where to File Your Form I-589
    Applying for asylum for the first time and have not been placed in removal proceedings in Immigration Court Service Center that has jurisdiction over your place of residence.
    • Information about where to send your application can be found in the instructions to Form I-589.
    • USCIS will confirm in writing its receipt of your completed application.
    Previously applied for and were denied asylum by INS or USCIS

    Previously included in a spouse's or parent's pending application but no longer eligible to be included as a derivative
    Asylum Office having jurisdiction over your place of residence.
    • Information about the jurisdiction of the asylum offices can be found at the Field Offices Home Page.
    • Include a letter with your application stating that you previously applied for asylum and were denied, or that you are now filing independently for asylum and reference the application on which you were a dependent.
    Currently in removal proceedings in Immigration Court Immigration Court having jurisdiction over your place of residence.
    Certain crewmembers, stowaways, individuals who entered the U.S. pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program and others described in
    8 CFR 208.2(c) before Form I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge, has been filed.
    District Director having jurisdiction over your place of residence.


    Can I Still Apply For Asylum Even If I Am Illegally in the United States?
    Yes, you may apply even if you are here illegally. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status as long as you file your application within one year of your last arrival or demonstrate that you are eligible for an exception to that rule based on changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances, and that you filed for asylum within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.


    Can I Apply For Asylum Even If I Was Convicted of a Crime?
    Yes, you may apply. However, you may be barred from being granted asylum depending on the crime. See INA 208(b). You must disclose any criminal history on your Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and at your asylum interview. Failure to disclose such information may result in your asylum claim being referred to the Immigration Court, and possible fines or imprisonment for committing perjury.


    What About My Spouse and Children?
    You must list your spouse and all your children on your Form I-589 regardless of their age, marital status, whether they are in the United States, or whether or not they are included in your application or filing a separate asylum application.

    You may ask to have included in your asylum decision your spouse and/or any children who are under the age of 21 and unmarried, if they are in the United States. This means that, if you are granted asylum, they will also be granted asylum status and will be allowed to remain in the United States incident to your asylum status. However, if you are referred to the Immigration Court, they will also be referred to the court for removal proceedings. You should refer to the instructions in Form I-589 for information on the documents you will be required to submit establishing your family relationships, such as marriage certificates and birth certificates.

    Children who are married and/or children who are 21 years of age or older at the time you file your asylum application must file separately for asylum by submitting their own asylum applications (Form I-589).

    Once you are granted asylum, you may petition to bring your spouse and/or children (unmarried and under the age of 21 as of the date you filed the asylum application, as long as your asylum application was pending on or after August 6, 2002) to the United States or to allow those already here, who were not included in your asylum decision, to remain incident to your asylum status. Please see Grant of Asylum for more information.


    What Happens if My Child Turns 21 After I Have Filed My Asylum Application?
    Under the Child Status Protection Act, signed into law by President Bush on August 6, 2002, your child will continue to be classified as a child if he or she turned 21 years of age after your asylum application was filed but while it was pending. Your child must have been unmarried and under 21 years of age on the date that you filed your I-589. The "filing date" is the date that USCIS received your application.

    There is no requirement that your child have been included as a dependent on your asylum application at the time of filing, only that your child be included prior to the decision made on your claim. This means that you may add to your asylum application an unmarried son or daughter who is 21 years of age, but who was 20 at the time you filed your asylum application.


    What is the Fee?
    There is no fee to apply for asylum.


    How Does The Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge Determine If I Am Eligible for Asylum?
    The Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge will determine if you are eligible by evaluating whether you meet the definition of a refugee. The definition, which can be found in section 101(a)(42)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), states that a refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to and avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her home country or, if stateless, country of last habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The determination of whether you meet the definition of a refugee will be based on information you provide on your application and during an interview with an Asylum Officer or at a hearing before an Immigration Judge.

    The Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge will also consider whether any bars apply. You will be barred from being granted asylum under INA 208(b)(2) if you:
    1. Ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion
    2. Were convicted of a particularly serious crime (includes aggravated felonies)
    3. Committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside the United States
    4. Pose a danger to the security of the United States
    5. Firmly resettled in another country prior to arriving in the United States (see 8 CFR 208.15 for a definition of "firm resettlement")

    You will also be barred from being granted asylum under INA 208 if you are inadmissible under INA 212(a)(3)(B) or removable under INA 237(a)(4)(B) because you:
    1. Have engaged in terrorist activity;
    2. Are engaged in or are likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity (a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe, that this is the case);
    3. Have, under any circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorist activity;
    4. Are a representative of
      1. a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary of State under section 219 of the INA, or
      2. a political, social, or other similar group whose public endorsement of acts of terrorist activity the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities;*
    5. Are a member of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary of State under section 219 of the INA, or which you know or should have known is a terrorist organization;
    6. Have used a position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities.*

    *These two categories were added by the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT Act, P.L. 107-56, October 26, 2001), which was passed in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


    How Long Does the Process Take?
    The time frames below apply only if you will be scheduled for an interview at one of the eight asylum offices. Time frames vary for those who live far from an asylum office because asylum officers must travel to other offices in order to conduct the long-distance interviews.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides in Section 208(d)(5) that the initial interview on asylum applications filed on or after April 1, 1997 should take place within 45 days after the date the application is filed, and a decision should be made on the asylum application within 180 days after the date the application is filed, unless there are exceptional circumstances.


    Applicant files I-589 at the Service Center Within 21 days of the filing date Within 43 days of the filing date Within 60 days of the filing date Within 180 days of the filing date
    The filing date is the date the complete application was received at the Service Center. Applicant receives:
    • Receipt notice that USCIS received I-589
    • Fingerprint appointment notice
    • Interview notice
    Applicant is interviewed at one of the eight asylum offices, unless applicant lives at a significant distance from an asylum office. Majority of applicants return two weeks after the interview to pick up the decisions on their application, including referrals to the Immigration Court for final determination. Applicants whose cases have been referred to the Immigration Court receive a decision on their applications.


    Where Can I Find the Law?
    The legal foundation for the Asylum Program comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For the part of the law concerning asylum, please see INA 208 (Asylum). You can also link here to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Rules published in the Federal Register explain the eligibility requirements and procedures to be followed by applicants and the government. These rules are incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR 208. Asylum officers also rely on case law to decide asylum claims. Administrative decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be found at BIA Decisions or http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir. See Sources of Authority [Sources of Authority.doc] for a general overview of the sources of law that asylum officers consider when adjudicating asylum claims.


    Where Can I Find the Forms?
    The following forms can be found by clicking the links below, by calling the Forms request line at 1-800-870-3676, or by submitting a request through the forms by mail system:
    1. Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal)
    2. Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document)
    3. Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
    4. Form I-730 (Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition)
    5. Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
    6. Form AR-11 (Change of Address)
    7. Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative)


    Can Anyone Help Me?
    You have a right to provide your own legal representation at an asylum interview and during immigration proceedings before the Immigration Court, at no cost to the United States Government. You may obtain a list of pro bono (free or reduced cost) attorneys or community-based, non-profit organizations that may be available to assist you by:
    1. viewing our webpage that provides information on free legal advice;
    2. calling the forms request line at 1-800-870-3676;
    3. visiting the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review website at http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/raroster.htm and http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm, or
    4. contacting the district office or asylum office near your home. Please see our field offices home page for more information on contacting our offices.

    Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) may be able to assist you in identifying persons to help you complete your Form I-589. The current address of the UNHCR is:

      United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
      1775 K Street, NW, Suite 300
      Washington, DC 20006
      Telephone: (202) 296-5191
      Website: http://www.unhcr.ch


Background/Security Checks


    When Will I Need To Be Fingerprinted?
    After the Service Center receives your completed Form I-589, the Service Center will send you a notice, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age, to go to an Application Support Center or authorized Designated Law Enforcement Agency to have your fingerprints taken. You are exempt from the fingerprint fee. The fingerprints will be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a background/security check. The FBI will send those results to USCIS. Your spouse and children for whom you are asking for derivative asylum status will also need to be fingerprinted if they are between 14 and 79 years of age. Additional information about the fingerprinting process can be found on the Fingerprints webpage, Application Support Centers webpage (for hours and locations), or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.


    Will I Be Required to Undergo Any Other Criminal or Security Checks?
    Yes. Every individual who applies for asylum will be subject to a background/security check. Depending on the results of the mandatory check, you may not be eligible for a final grant of asylum. Your application may be referred to the Immigration Judge, and you may be placed in removal proceedings in Immigration Court.

    The background/security check consists of the following:

    1. USCIS sends a copy of your Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to the U.S. Department of State.

    2. USCIS sends your biographical information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    3. USCIS checks your biographical information against law enforcement databases.

    4. USCIS schedules you, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age, for fingerprinting at an Application Support Center or Designated Law Enforcement Agency. The fingerprints are sent to the FBI to conduct background/security checks.


Asylum Interview

    What Should I Bring With Me To The Asylum Interview?
    You have the right to bring an attorney or representative. You must bring an interpreter if you are not fluent in English. If your spouse and/or children who were under 21 at the time you filed your application are included in your asylum application as dependents, they must also appear for the interview and bring any identity or travel documents they have in their possession. Although you are required to list all of your family members on your application, you only need to bring those to the interview that will be included as dependents in the asylum decision. You should also bring the following if available:
    1. some form of identification, including any passport(s), other travel or identification documents, or Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
    2. the originals of any birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents you previously submitted with your Form I-589
    3. a copy of your Form I-589 and other supplementary material that you previously submitted
    4. any additional available items documenting your claim that you have not already submitted with your application. Any document in a language other than English must be accompanied by an adequate English translation that the translator has certified as complete and correct, and by the translator's certification that he or she is competent to translate into English the language used in the document.


    Should I Bring An Interpreter to My Asylum Interview?
    USCIS does not provide any interpreters during the asylum interview. You must bring an interpreter if you do not speak English fluently. The interpreter must be fluent in English and a language you speak fluently and must be at least 18 years old. The following persons cannot serve as your interpreter: your attorney or representative of record; a witness testifying on your behalf at the interview; or a representative or employee of your country. The regulation relating to interpreters can be found at 8 CFR 208.9(g).


    What Will Happen At My Asylum Interview?
    The interview will generally last at least an hour, although the time may vary depending on the case. You will be asked to take an oath promising to tell the truth during the interview. The Asylum Officer will verify your identity and ask you basic biographical questions. The Asylum Officer will ask you about the reasons you are applying for asylum. The Asylum Officer will know that it may be difficult for you to talk about traumatic and painful experiences that caused you to leave your country. However, it is very important that you tell the Asylum Officer your experiences so that the Asylum Officer can determine whether you qualify as a refugee. The Asylum Officer will also ask you questions to determine if any bars apply to being granted asylum. See How Does the Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge Determine If I Am Eligible for Asylum? Everything you say to the Asylum Officer will be confidential. You and your attorney or representative, if any, will have time at the end of the interview to make a statement or add any additional information. A decision will not be made at the asylum interview. See 8 CFR 208.9.


    What If I Need to Reschedule the Interview?
    You must either send a letter to the asylum office where your interview is scheduled to be held or complete a Request to Reschedule Asylum Interview letter at the asylum office. Your request must be made in writing. The addresses can be found by clicking on the following links: Arlington, VA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ (Lyndhurst); New York, NY (Rosedale); and San Francisco, CA.


    What If I Fail To Appear For My Asylum Interview?
    If USCIS does not receive a written explanation for your failure to appear within 15 days after the date of the scheduled interview, your case will either be referred to the Immigration Court or your case will be administratively closed if you are still in valid status. See 8 CFR 208.10. The Asylum Office Director has discretion to reschedule your interview if you provide a reasonable explanation for your failure to appear. If you establish exceptional circumstances for the failure to appear or that USCIS did not properly notify you of the interview, USCIS must reschedule your interview.

    Failure to appear at the interview may affect your eligibility to apply for work authorization. You are generally eligible to apply for work authorization 150 days after you submit a complete application to the Service Center if a decision has not been made on your asylum application. However, if you applied for asylum on or after January 4, 1995, you will be ineligible for employment authorization if you fail to appear for an interview, unless your failure to appear is excused. See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(4).


Decisions On Asylum Claims

    How Will the Asylum Officer Make the Decision About Whether To Grant Me Asylum?
    The Asylum Officer will evaluate your testimony, the information you provide on your application, and any supplementary materials you submit to determine if you are a refugee and whether any mandatory bars apply. The Asylum Officer will consider country condition information from reliable sources and will consider the relevant law found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the regulations found in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and case law. The Asylum Officer will also evaluate the credibility of your claim. See 8 CFR 208.9.


    When Will I Be Notified About the Decision on My Asylum Claim?
    In most cases, you will return to the asylum office where your interview was held two weeks after the interview to pick up your decision. However, there may be longer processing times if you were interviewed at a district office, are currently in valid status, or if your case will be reviewed by Asylum Division Headquarters staff. You will generally receive the decision by mail if any of these circumstances occur.


    What Will Be My Status After I Am Granted Asylum?
    You will have asylee status. You will receive an I-94 Arrival and Departure record documenting that you are able to remain indefinitely in the United States as an asylee. You will be authorized to work in the United States for as long as you remain in asylee status. You may obtain a photo-identity document from USCIS evidencing your employment authorization by applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You will also be able to request derivative asylum status for any spouse or child (unmarried and under 21 years of age as of the date you filed the asylum application, as long as your asylum application was pending on or after August 6, 2002) who was not included as a dependent in your asylum decision and with whom you have a qualifying relationship. This means that you will be able to petition to bring your spouse and/or children to the United States, or allow them to remain in the United States indefinitely incident to your asylee status.


    To What Benefits May I Be Entitled After I Am Granted Asylum?
    Asylees are eligible to apply for certain benefits, including an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), an unrestricted Social Security card, cash and medical assistance, employment assistance, and a Refugee Travel Document. For more information on the benefits and responsibilities associated with asylee status, see Types of Decisions, Grant of Asylum, or information for asylees on the website of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.


    Can Asylum Status Be Terminated?
    Yes. Your asylee status may be terminated if you no longer have a well-founded fear of persecution because of a fundamental change in circumstances, you have obtained protection from another country, or you have committed certain crimes or engaged in other activity that makes you ineligible to retain asylum status in the United States. See INA 208(c)(2). An asylee is not a lawful permanent resident. You may apply for lawful permanent resident status after you have been physically present in the United States for a period of one year after the date you were granted asylum status. See Asylee Adjustment for more information about becoming a lawful permanent resident. The law can be found at INA 209(b).


    What is a Recommended Approval of Asylum?
    You will receive a recommended approval of asylum if an Asylum Officer has made a preliminary determination to grant you asylum, but USCIS has not received the results from the mandatory, confidential investigation of your identity and background. If the results reveal derogatory information that affects your eligibility for asylum, USCIS may deny your request for asylum or refer it to an Immigration Judge for further consideration. See Recommended Approval.


    What is a Conditional Grant of Asylum?
    Prior to the passage of the Real ID Act of 2005, applicants who were found eligible for asylum based on past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution solely on account of resistance to a coercive population control (CPC) program were subject to a 1,000-per-year statutory limit on grants of asylum based on CPC, and were given a conditional grant until a final approval authorization number bacame available within the annual 1,000 cap. Section 101(g)(2) of the Real ID Act of 2005 eliminated this annual 1,000 cap, and asylum offices have heen issuing final, as opposed to conditional, asylum approvals to new, qualified applicants whose asylum claims are based solely on CPC, as well as to applicants who had previously been given a conditional grant, provided that they clear background check requirements and otherwise qualify for asylum status. See Resistance to Coercive Population Control (CPC) Programs for more information.


    What is a Notice of Intent to Deny?
    You will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny if you are currently in valid status and found ineligible for asylum. You will have 16 days to provide a response to the letter. The Asylum Officer will then either approve or deny the claim. See Notice of Intent to Deny.


    What is a Final Denial?
    You will receive a Final Denial of your asylum claim if you received a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) and either did not provide a response to the letter within 16 days, or the Asylum Officer determined that the evidence or argument you provided failed to overcome the grounds for denial as stated in the NOID. See Final Denial.


    What Does It Mean to be Referred to Immigration Court?
    This means that the Asylum Officer was unable to approve your asylum application and you are not currently in valid status. You will receive charging documents that place you in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Your asylum application will be referred to the Immigration Court for an Immigration Judge to decide during the removal proceedings. See Referral to an Immigration Court.


    Where Can I Find Further Information if My Asylum Claim is Referred to Immigration Court?
    The Immigration Courts are located within the Executive Office for Immigration Review at the U.S. Department of Justice. Information about the Immigration Courts can be found at www.usdoj.gov/eoir or you can call their electronic information system at 1-800-898-7180. You will need your A-number to get information on your case. This telephonic information system can give you information about your next hearing date, time and location; elapsed time and status of the clock for asylum cases; Immigration Judge decision information; case appeal information, including appeal due date, brief due date, date forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and BIA decision and decision date. If the Immigration Judge denies your asylum application, you will receive a notice telling you how to appeal the decision.

    Generally, you may appeal within 30 days of receiving the denial. After your appeal form and a required fee are processed, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, DC. For more information, see the Executive Office for Immigration Review's website at www.usdoj.gov/eoir.


Other

    Do I Need to Notify USCIS If I Move?
    See How Do I Report a Change of Address to USCIS?

    You must also notify in writing the local asylum office where you case is pending of any change of address. Please see "Change of Address" on your local asylum office page for more information: Arlington, VA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ (Lyndhurst); New York, NY (Rosedale); and San Francisco, CA

    The regulation pertaining to change of address can be found at 8 CFR 265.1.

    Special note for class members of the American Baptist Churches V. Thornburgh (ABC) settlement agreement: ABC class members are instructed to follow the same procedures as all other asylum applicants for reporting a change of address. See How Do I Report a Change of Address to USCIS? Please note, on November 30, 2005, the ABC Project Post Office Box was officially closed and use of Form I-855, ABC Change of Address Form, discontinued. Any mail sent to the ABC Project Post Office Box will be returned to sender if the mail contains a return address, or destroyed if it does not. See USCIS Announces New Address Change Procedures for ABC Class Members and Follow-Up Message: USCIS Announces New Address Change Procedures for ABC Class Members (11/30/05).


    How Can I Find Out About the Status of My Application?
    There are two ways to find the status of a pending asylum application: you may write to the Asylum Office having jurisdiction over your case or you may visit the Asylum Office where your case is pending. You should be prepared to provide the following information:
    1. Alien number ("A-Number")
    2. Current legal name and, if different, the name as it appears on the application
    3. Nationality
    4. Date of birth
    5. Current address
    6. Date of interview, if applicable

    If you are sending your request in writing, you should sign the request and mark your envelope: ATTN: Status Inquiry. The eight asylum offices are located at: Arlington, VA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ (Lyndhurst); New York, NY (Rosedale); and San Francisco, CA.


    Will I Be Able To Petition To Bring My Family To The United States?
    If you are granted asylum, you may request derivative asylum status for any spouse or child (unmarried and under 21 years of age as of the date you filed the asylum application was pending on or after August 6, 2002) who was not included in your asylum claim and with whom you have a qualifying relationship. You must submit a Form I-730, Refugee and Asylee Relative Petition, to the Nebraska Service Center, P.O. Box 87730, Lincoln, NE 68501-7730. The Form I-730 must be filed for each qualifying family member within 2 years of the date you were granted asylum status, unless USCIS determines that this time period should be extended for humanitarian reasons. See How Do I Get My Spouse or Children Derivative Asylum Status in the United States?


    When Can I Apply To Become a Lawful Permanent Resident?
    You may apply for lawful permanent resident status under INA 209(b) after you have been physically present in the United States for a period of one year after the date you were granted asylum status. To apply for lawful permanent resident status, you must submit a separate Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, for yourself and each qualifying family member to the Nebraska Service Center, P.O. Box 87485, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501-7485. See Asylee Adjustment.


    Will I Get a Work Permit?
    Asylum applicants cannot apply for employment authorization at the same time they apply for asylum. You will be authorized to work in the United States if you are granted asylum and as long as you remain in asylum status. You are also eligible to apply for employment authorization if you have been given a recommended approval or conditional grant of asylum. You can also apply for work authorization before a decision is made on your claim if 150 days has passed since you filed your complete application with the Service Center and no decision has been made on your application. USCIS has 30 days to either grant or deny your request for employment. The application to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is the Form I-765. Please see Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and How Do I Get a Work Permit? for more information.

    Effective November 10, 2002, asylum applicants who have been granted asylum will no longer have to file an EAD application with the Nebraska Service Center in order to obtain an initial EAD. Section 309 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 requires USCIS to issue an employment authorization document containing at least a fingerprint and photograph to an asylee immediately upon a grant of asylum. If an asylee wishes to renew his or her EAD, the asylee will still need to submit an EAD application with the Nebraska Service Center, and pay a fee or request a fee waiver under 8 CFR 103.7(c). However, asylees are work-authorized regardless of whether or not they are in possession of an EAD. An asylee may want to obtain an EAD from USCIS in order to meet other obligations. For example, the EAD, which is evidence of both identity and employment authorization, can be presented to an employer as a List A document of the Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9). Also, the EAD can serve as evidence of alien registration, which is required by law to be carried by registered aliens at all times.


    Can I Travel Outside the United States?
    If you are applying for asylum and want to travel outside the United States, you must receive advance permission before you leave the United States in order to return to the United States. This advance permission is called Advance Parole. If you do not apply for Advance Parole before you leave the country, you will be presumed to have abandoned your application with USCIS and you may not be permitted to return to the United States. If you obtain advance parole and return to your country of feared persecution, you will be presumed to have abandoned your asylum request, unless you can show compelling reasons for the return. If your application for asylum is approved, you may apply for a Refugee Travel Document. This document will allow you to travel abroad and return to the United States. For more information on both Advance Parole and Refugee Travel Documents, see How Do I Get a Travel Document? and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.


    How Does the Asylum Program Assure Quality and Consistency in its Asylum Decisions?
    The Asylum Program assures the quality of its programs through its Quality Assurance and Training Branch by:
    1. conducting a mandatory and comprehensive 5-week training program on asylum law, interviewing skills and analysis (Asylum Officer Basic Training Course) for all incoming asylum officers
    2. requiring 100% review of all asylum decisions by a Supervisory Asylum Officer
    3. placing one or more Quality and Assurance Trainers in every Asylum Office to conduct training programs, observe asylum interviews, and review decisions
    4. setting aside 4 hours every week for in-house training in the asylum offices
    5. requiring Asylum Division Headquarters review of certain cases
    6. conducting supervisory training programs


    Who Do I Send Complaints and Comments About the Service I Received or Misconduct?
    You should contact the asylum office where you had your interview by sending a letter to the director of that office. Instructions can be found in the "Customer Feedback" section for the following offices: Arlington, VA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ (Lyndhurst); New York, NY (Rosedale); and San Francisco, CA.

    You can also report any incident of misconduct to:
      Director
      Office of Internal Audit
      425 I Street, NW, Room 3260
      Washington, DC 20536
 
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