The following steps explain how you apply for asylum in the United States through the affirmative asylum process. The information in this section will not apply to you if you are seeking asylum through the defensive asylum process, meaning you are in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
Depending on where you live, we will schedule you for an interview with an asylum officer either at one of the eight asylum offices or at a USCIS field office. For more information about USCIS field and asylum offices visit our Find A USCIS Office Web page. Your interview notice will tell you the date, location, and time of your asylum interview.
Please Note: Delay in Scheduling Your Asylum Interview
We are committed to processing and adjudicating every application we receive in a timely manner; however, because of the diversion of an increasing number of asylum officers to conduct protection screening interviews for persons arriving at the border, there could be a delay in scheduling your interview.
On December 26th, 2014, the USCIS Asylum Division began prioritizing asylum applications for interview scheduling as follows:
First, applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the applicant requested a new interview date;
Second, applications filed by children; and
Third, all other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews in the order they were received, with oldest cases scheduled first.
If your asylum application is currently pending interview scheduling, we are unable to predict how long the process will take at this time. However, we will continue to update this page as soon as additional information is available.
STEP FIVE: Interview
You may bring an attorney or accredited representative to the interview. You must also bring your spouse and any children seeking derivative asylum benefits to the interview.
If you cannot proceed with the interview in English you must bring an interpreter.
The interview will generally last about an hour, although the time may vary depending on the case. You may also bring witnesses to testify on your behalf.
STEP SIX: Asylum Officer Makes Determination on Eligibility and Supervisory Asylum Officer Reviews the Decision
You must meet the definition of a refugee in order to be eligible for asylum.
The asylum officer will determine whether you:
Are eligible to apply for asylum,
Meet the definition of a refugee in section 101(a)(42)(A) of the INA, and
Are barred from being granted asylum under section 208(b)(2) of the INA.
A supervisory asylum officer reviews the asylum officer’s decision to ensure it is consistent with the law. Depending on the case, the supervisory asylum officer may refer the decision to asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters for additional review.
STEP SEVEN: Receive Decision
In most cases, you will return to the asylum office to pick up the decision two weeks after the asylum officer interviewed you.
Longer processing times may be required if you:
Are currently in valid immigration status,
Were interviewed at a USCIS field office,
Have pending security checks, or
Have a case that is being reviewed by asylum division staff at USCIS headquarters.
We will normally mail your decision to you in these situations.