Under U.S. law, any alien present in the United States is permitted to apply for asylum regardless of the alien’s status. A NACARA beneficiary may want to pursue an asylum application because a grant of asylum permits a dependent spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 who is included in the asylum application to be granted asylum. If the spouse or unmarried child is not included in the asylum application or is outside the United States at the time the application is approved, the applicant may request that such dependents receive derivative asylum status. Upon approval of the request, those dependents may then join the applicant in the United States. There also may be certain public assistance benefits that are available based on an approved asylum application. You may wish to consult with an attorney or representative before your interview if you have any concerns about withdrawing an asylum application.
You must notify USCIS of any change of address within 10 days by submitting Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, to the address listed on the form. You also should submit the change of address to the Asylum Office that has jurisdiction over your application.
After you file a Form I-881 NACARA application with USCIS, you will receive a notice in the mail acknowledging that the USCIS has received your application. You will later receive another notice in the mail with an appointment date for you to have your fingerprints taken at an Application Support Center (ASC). You may not be immediately scheduled for a fingerprinting appointment upon the filing of the NACARA application; therefore, you may experience a delay between the time you submit your NACARA application and the time you receive a fingerprinting appointment notice. Once your fingerprints have been taken, your fingerprints will be sent to the FBI for a background check. You will later receive a notice in the mail with an appointment date for your interview with an asylum officer regarding your NACARA application.
You are entitled to bring, at your own expense, an attorney or accredited representative with you to your interview. If you do not feel comfortable speaking in English, you must bring an interpreter who is fluent in English and your native language. The cost of the interpretation also is at your own expense. The interpreter must be at least 18 years of age and cannot be your attorney or representative or a witness testifying on your behalf. If, in addition to your NACARA application, you also have an asylum application pending, your interpreter cannot be a representative of your country of nationality.
In order to receive your decision as quickly as possible after the interview, please be prepared to give the asylum officer any documents needed to establish eligibility to be granted relief under section 203 of NACARA. Such documents may include:
- proof of your relationship to family members (marriage/birth certificates);
- proof that you have filed income taxes during the seven years of continuous physical presence;
- proof of hardships you and/or your family members would suffer if you are removed from the United States; and
- court disposition documents related to any past criminal proceedings or serious traffic violations.
You should also bring any passport, travel documents, and other forms of identification with you, even if they are now expired. If you have a validly issued passport and USCIS approves your NACARA application, your passport will be stamped with temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.
USCIS cannot provide a specific time period when you will be scheduled for an interview. USCIS gives priority scheduling to individuals who have children in the United States who entered the United States after October 1, 1990 and who will turn 21 years old within a year. USCIS also is making every effort to schedule interviews for individuals who have filed a NACARA 203 application and have been issued a fingerprint request. You may experience a delay between the time you file your application and the time USCIS schedules you for an interview. Also, if you live in an area where the Asylum Office does not have permanent staff on location, it may take longer for USCIS to schedule your interview.
If you are 14 years of age or older, you must be fingerprinted after you apply for NACARA 203 relief.
If you cannot make it to your scheduled interview, it is very important that you contact USCIS before your scheduled interview date. You should submit a written request to reschedule with the Asylum Office. The Asylum Office will allow one rescheduling of your interview without a reasonable excuse, so long as the request to reschedule is be received at least 2 days before the scheduled interview date. All other written requests to reschedule must provide a reasonable excuse for not attending the interview. Otherwise, USCIS may dismiss or refer your NACARA application to an immigration judge or deny or close any pending asylum application
It is not possible to reschedule or discuss your case by telephone. All rescheduling requests must be made in writing to the Asylum Office that scheduled your interview.
You are still eligible under the law to seek asylum in the United States. Once USCIS approves your NACARA application, you will be asked whether you want to continue to seek asylum in the United States or withdraw your asylum application.
You will be granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States. If USCIS grants your NACARA application on the day of your interview, the Asylum Office will immediately give you temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status, and USCIS will later send you a Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a “green card”) by mail. If USCIS grants your NACARA application after the day of interview, you will receive temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status either when you return to the Asylum Office to receive the decision, or by mail.
USCIS is aware that, in certain very limited circumstances, there may be compelling reasons an individual would want to expedite the fingerprinting process. One reason may be that a NACARA applicant has a child in the United States who is approaching his or her 21st birthday, and that child is eligible to apply for NACARA 203 relief only as a qualified family member. If USCIS has not scheduled you for fingerprinting and you have a child in the United States who will turn 21 years old within the next year, and the child did not enter the United States before October 1, 1990, you should submit a request to be scheduled for fingerprints. You may submit your request in writing or go to the Asylum Office listed on the I-881 receipt notice. You should explain in your request that your child will be turning 21 years old within the next year.
The interview will be conducted in a non-adversarial manner; it is not a court hearing. If you have both a NACARA and asylum application pending with USCIS, USCIS normally will conduct a NACARA interview first. If you are granted NACARA relief, you will be given the option of withdrawing your asylum application. In order to make this decision, you may wish to talk with someone experienced with immigration matters to help you decide what to do. If you decide not to withdraw your asylum application, USCIS will schedule you for an asylum interview.
If USCIS cannot grant NACARA relief and approves your asylum application, USCIS will dismiss your NACARA application. If USCIS cannot grant your NACARA application or approve your asylum application, or you did not have a pending asylum application with USCIS, USCIS will refer your NACARA application to the Immigration Court in most instances.
USCIS understands that, in certain very limited circumstances, there may be compelling reasons for you to request an expedited scheduling of your NACARA interview. You should submit a written request to the Asylum Office that has jurisdiction over your application or go in person to the Asylum Office and inquire about your case. The Asylum Office’s mailing address is listed on the I-881 receipt notice you received after filing your I-881 with the Service Center. The request should include the reason(s) why you believe that an expedited interview is necessary, such as your child in the United States is about to turn 21 years old, and your child is not independently eligible to apply for NACARA 203 relief.
Yes. If USCIS intends to approve your NACARA application, you will be asked to sign a document in which you admit that you do not have legal status in the United States. This is necessary because USCIS cannot approve your NACARA application until USCIS has determined that you do not have legal status in the United States. Once you sign this admission document, USCIS will grant you lawful permanent resident status.
If you do not sign the admission document, USCIS will not be able to grant your NACARA application. In most cases, USCIS will refer your application to an immigration judge to make a decision. You may wish to consult with an attorney or representative before your interview if you have any concerns about signing a document in which you admit that you are inadmissible or deportable.
If the Service Center received your NACARA application before July 2000, you should have already received a notice to go to an Application Support Center (ASC) for fingerprinting. If you have not received a fingerprint notice, you should submit a request to be scheduled for fingerprints. You may submit your request to the Asylum Office listed on the I-881 receipt notice you previously received in the mail evidencing that you filed an I-881.
In July 2000, the INS (now USCIS) stopped automatically scheduling fingerprint appointments for individuals upon the filing of a NACARA application, with certain exceptions, to prevent the expiration of the FBI fingerprint check responses before the date of the NACARA interviews. The FBI response regarding an applicant's background expires 15 months after the review of the fingerprints by the FBI. USCIS cannot grant NACARA relief to an individual if the fingerprint response from the FBI has expired. USCIS makes every effort to schedule a fingerprinting appointment for any applicant who has a child who will turn 21 years old within the next year and who entered the United States after October 1, 1990.
You may be told the decision on the day of your interview. If USCIS does not tell you the decision on the day of your interview, USCIS will either ask you to return to the Asylum Office to receive the decision at a later date, or you will be sent the decision by mail.
You are admitting that you have taken actions that make you inadmissible or deportable under U.S. immigration law. For example, if you entered the United States illegally or overstayed your non-immigrant visa, you are subject to a ground of inadmissibility or deportability under U.S. immigration law. Even if you presently have a work authorization card and a pending asylum application, you may still be inadmissible or deportable. USCIS will only ask you to sign the admission document if USCIS is going to approve your NACARA application and grant you lawful permanent resident status.