Asylum - USA Immigration

Asylum refers to the protection granted by a country to one that is suffering persecution of fear of persecution in their home country on account of their membership in a social group, nationality, political opinion, race, and religion.

No matter how the individual entered the United States, if they are suffering persecution or fear of persecution in their home country, they may apply for asylum in order to remain in the United States.

Asylum Application Process

One must file Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding Removal within one year of entering the United States. There is no I-589 Application fee. When filing Form I-589, the person seeking asylum may include their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. Persons seeking asylum may add their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age to their application at any time before the asylum decision is made.

Family Members of Asylee

After being granted asylum, the asylee may petition to bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the United States. The asylee must file Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition within 2 years of being granted asylum. There is no I-730 filing fee as well.

Asylum and Work Authorization

One may not immediately obtain employment authorization when applying for asylum. In order to obtain employment authorization, at least 150 days must have passed since the filing date of the I-589 and no decision must have been made within that time period.

If granted asylum, one may immediately take up employment and obtain work authorization. Asylees do not need to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in order to work. In order to apply for employment authorization, one must file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. If your asylum case is pending or if you have been granted asylum, then there is no employment authorization application fee.

Green Cards for Asylees and Their Spouse and Children

Asylees may apply for a green card and obtain permanent residence after one year of being granted asylum. The asylee must file form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status and file separate I-485s for their spouse and each of their unmarried children under 21 years of age. 

*Although it is not necessary to apply for a green card, it is in the asylee’s best interest to apply as soon as possible since, if conditions in the asylee’s country change, or they no longer meet the definition of an asylee, then they may lose their right to permanently remain in the United States. If your green card application is approved, then you may permanently remain in the U.S. without fear of having to return to your home country.* 

Asylees do not have an automatic right to remain in the United States indefinitely. If after one year of residing in the United States under asylee status (one year after approval of asylum) you meet the following requirements, then you may apply for a green card.

  • You must continue to meet the definition of an asylee
  • You must maintain asylum status
  • You must have been physically present in the U.S. for one year after approval of your asylum application
  • You must have not resettled in another country
  • You must still be admissible under U.S. law. You may need to file a Waiver of Inadmissibility if you are inadmissible at the time of applying for a green card

If you are inadmissible under U.S. law then you must file Form I-602 Application by Regugee For Waiver of Grounds of Excludability. You may be inadmissible for the following reasons:

  • Health Related Grounds: Communicable disease such as chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis tuberculosis, absence of proper vaccinations, mental disorders  
  • Criminal and Related Violations: crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance violation in any country (single offense of possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana do not apply), two or more criminal convictions with a total sentence of 5 years of more, trafficking of controlled substances, prostitution and other commercialized vice, and other serious criminal charges
  • Security and Related Violations: Including but not limited to persons who pose a threat to U.S. foreign policy, terrorists, saboteurs, spies, Nazis, members of Communist and Totalitarian parties

Please note that waivers of inadmissibility are evaluated on a case by cases basis. If your I-602 application is rejected, then you will be unable to apply for a green card and may be subject to removal from the United States.

Required Documentation for Asylee Green Card Application

In addition to filing a completed and signed Form I-485, you must also submit:

  • A completed and signed I-693 Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record documenting that you have received the proper vaccination
  • Form I-485 Application Fee of $985 USD and the associated biometric fee of $85 USD, totaling $1070. Those under 14 years of age do not need to submit a fingerprint fee
  • A completed and signed I-602 Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability, if you are now inadmissible (no filing fee). The Form I-602 must be filed USCIS office that is processing the refugee’s I-590 Registration for Classification as Refugee
  •  A copy of your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Asylees should also include a copy of their asylum approval notice
  • 2 passport style color photos
  • For applicants between 14 and 79 years of age must submit a copy of their completed Form G-325A Biographic Information Sheet
  • If you have been arrested, you must submit certified copies of any court records

Asylee Change of Address

Within 10 days of changing your address, you must mail Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, to the address stated, or complete step 1 on the USCIS’s online change address form. Those that have pending asylum applications should notify the Asylum office within 10 days of their change of address either by mailing Form AR-11 to the office, filing out step 2 on the change address form, or calling the service center at 1-800-375-5283.

Written by:Mark Carmel