Your Immigration Questions Answered

Q: What is affirmative asylum? 

Affirmative asylum is a legal process in the United States for people already in the country to apply for protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if they return to their home country.

Q: Who can apply for affirmative asylum? 

Any individual present in the U.S. who believes they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country can apply for affirmative asylum, regardless of their current immigration status, provided they apply within one year of their arrival to the U.S.

Q: How do I apply for affirmative asylum? 

You apply for affirmative asylum by submitting Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within one year of your arrival to the United States.

Q: What evidence do I need for an affirmative asylum application? 

You should provide detailed written testimony about your persecution or fear of persecution. Supporting evidence can include witness statements, medical records, country conditions reports, and other documentation that corroborates your claim.

Q: How long does the affirmative asylum process take? 

The time frame can vary widely based on the case’s complexity, the current backlog of the immigration system, and other factors. After submitting your application, you will be scheduled for an interview with an asylum officer, typically within a few weeks to several months.

Q: Can I work while my asylum application is pending? 

You may apply for a work permit if 150 days have passed since the submission of your complete asylum application and no decision has been made on your case.

Q: What happens if my affirmative asylum application is denied? 

If your application is not granted by the asylum officer, your case will be referred to an immigration judge for further consideration in removal proceedings. You will have another opportunity to seek asylum in a defensive process before the judge.

Q: Can my family be included in my asylum application? 

Yes, you may include your spouse and children who are in the United States at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your application.

Q: Is legal representation necessary for affirmative asylum? 

While you are not required to have legal representation, it is highly recommended to seek assistance from an attorney who specializes in asylum law to navigate the complexities of the asylum process and increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Q: How does the government decide if I am eligible for asylum? 

The government will evaluate whether you meet the definition of a refugee, which includes proving that you have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of one of the protected grounds, and that you are not barred from asylum for any reason such as certain criminal activity or security concerns.