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Asylum Eligibility and Applications Questions and Answers

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Questions and Answers: Asylum Eligibility and Applications

Who Is Eligible to Apply for Asylum?

You may apply for asylum if you are at a port of entry or in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status and within one year of your arrival to the United States.

You will not be eligible to apply for asylum if you:

Filed your application after being in the United States for more than one year. However, you may qualify for an exception if you show:

  • changed circumstances materially affecting your asylum eligibility for asylum or
  • extraordinary circumstances relating to your delay in filing.
  • you must still file your application within a reasonable time under the circumstances to be eligible for an exception.

Changed circumstances may include but are not limited to:

  • Changes in conditions in your country of nationality or, if you are stateless, your country of last habitual residence
  • Changes in your circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum, including changes in applicable U.S. law and activities you become involved in outside the country of feared persecution that place you at risk
  • If you were previously included as a dependent in someone else’s pending asylum application, the loss of the spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal applicant through marriage, divorce, death, or attainment of age 21

Extraordinary circumstances may include but are not limited to:

  • Serious illness or mental or physical disability, including any effects of persecution or violent harm suffered in the past, during the 1-year period after your arrival in the U.S.
  • Legal disability, such as your status as an unaccompanied minor or you suffered from a mental impairment, during the 1-year period after your arrival in the U.S.

Ineffective assistance of counsel, if:

  • You file an affidavit explaining in detail the agreement that you had with your lawyer about the actions to be taken by your lawyer on your behalf and what your lawyer told you he or she would do for you
  • You have informed the lawyer whom you are criticizing of the accusations against him or her and the lawyer has been given an opportunity to respond
  • You indicate whether you have filed a complaint with appropriate disciplinary authorities about any violation of your lawyer’s ethical or legal responsibilities, and if not, why not
  • You had Temporary Protected Status (TPS), lawful immigrant or nonimmigrant status, or you were given parole, until a reasonable period before you filed your asylum application
  • You filed an asylum application before the expiration of the 1-year deadline, but USCIS rejected your application as not properly filed, returned the application to you for corrections, and you re-filed your application within a reasonable time after the return
  • The death or serious illness or incapacity of your legal representative or a member of your immediate family

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 affect your eligibility for asylum.

You will also be barred if you could be removed to a safe third country to a two-party or multi-party agreement. Currently, the United States has a safe third country agreement with Canada that does not apply to you if you are applying for asylum affirmatively with USCIS. The Agreement only applies in Credible Fear Screenings. For more information about the safe third country agreement with Canada, see the Questions & Answers: Credible Fear Screenings page. For more information about bars to applying, see the Asylum Bars page.

How Do I Apply for Asylum?

To apply for asylum, you must complete a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for withholding of removal.

Q: Can I Still Apply for Asylum Even if I Am in the United States Illegally?

A: Yes. You may apply for asylum with USCIS regardless of your immigration status if:

  • You are not currently in removal proceedings
  • You file an asylum application within one year of arriving to the United States or demonstrate that you are within an exception to that rule.

Contributed by Svetlana Prizant, an Award Winning New York Immigration Lawyer

Call or Visit Prizant Law Today At:
Prizant Law
118-21 Queens Blvd Suite 507
Forest Hills, NY 11375
718-407-0871

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