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Asylum

ALERT: On May 31, 2019, USCIS issued memorandum, “Updated Procedures for Asylum Applications Filed by Unaccompanied Alien Children.” On Aug. 2, 2019, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in the case of J.O.P. v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, et. al., Civil Action 8:19-cv-01944, issued a temporary restraining order enjoining USCIS from applying the May 31, 2019 memorandum. 

To determine if the court’s order in this case applies to you, read more at: United States District Court for the District of Maryland in the case of J.O.P. v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, et. al., Civil Action 8:19-cv-01944

Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.

You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. For more information see our Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal page.

If you have an asylum application pending with us, you can check your case status online. All you need is the receipt number that we mailed you after you filed your application. Start here: uscis.gov/casestatus.

Permission to Work in the United States

To apply for employment authorization, you must file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. For more information, see the Form I-765 webpage.

Based Upon a Pending Asylum Application:

You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum. You may apply for employment authorization 365 calendar days after you file your complete asylum application. You may be eligible to receive employment authorization based on a pending asylum application if:

  • You entered the United States lawfully on or after Aug. 25, 2020 (under limited exceptions, you may still be eligible if you entered the United States unlawfully on or after Aug. 25, 2020);
  • For asylum applications filed on or after Aug. 25, 2020, you filed your asylum application within one year from the date of your last arrival into the United States (alternatively, an asylum officer or immigration judge determined that you qualify for an exception to the one-year filing deadline, or you are an unaccompanied alien child on the date the asylum application was first filed);
  • You appeared for any scheduled biometric services appointments related to your application for asylum or employment authorization;
  • You appeared for your interview with a USCIS asylum officer, or your hearing before an immigration judge, if requested or scheduled;
  • You are not described in 8 CFR 208.7(a)(1)(iii);
  • You do not have an outstanding applicant-caused delay related to your asylum application when you file your initial application for employment authorization; and 
  • No final decision has been made on your asylum application (note that a referral to an immigration judge after an interview with USCIS is not a final decision).

If, on the date your initial application for an employment authorization document (EAD) is filed, there is an unresolved delay in your asylum adjudication that you caused, we may deny your EAD request. Examples of these applicant-caused delays include, but are not limited to:

  • Requesting to amend or supplement an asylum application and causing a delay in its adjudication or in proceedings; 
  • Failure to appear to receive and acknowledge receipt of the decision; 
  • Requesting to provide additional evidence for an interview, or requesting an extension to submit additional evidence less than 14 days before the interview date, and causing a delay in the asylum application adjudication; 
  • Failure to appear for an asylum interview, unless USCIS excuses you; 
  • Failure to appear for scheduled biometrics collection for the asylum application, unless USCIS excuses you; 
  • Requesting to reschedule an interview for a later date; 
  • Requesting to transfer a case to a new asylum office or interview location, including when the transfer is for a new address; 
  • Failure to use a USCIS contract interpreter or provide a competent interpreter at an interview; or 
  • Failure to comply with any other request needed to determine asylum eligibility. 

Certain criminal offenses or convictions will make you ineligible for an EAD. You will be ineligible for an EAD based on your pending asylum application if:

  • You have been convicted, at any time, of any aggravated felony, as defined under 8 CFR 1101(a)(43), in the U.S. or abroad;
  • You have been convicted, on or after Aug. 25, 2020, of a particularly serious crime; or
  • There are serious reasons to believe that you committed a serious non-political crime outside the U.S. on or after Aug. 25, 2020.

For more information regarding employment authorization and applicant-caused delays, see Applicant-Caused Delays in Adjudication of Asylum Applications and Impact on Employment Authorization (PDF, 296.86 KB). If we approve your application for employment authorization based on your pending asylum application, your EAD will be valid for up to two years.

After the Asylum Application is Adjudicated:

If you are granted asylum, you are immediately authorized to work. (Some asylees choose to obtain EADs for convenience or identification purposes, but an EAD is not necessary to work if you are an asylee.)

If you are denied asylum, we will automatically terminate your EAD based on your pending asylum application, as follows:

  • For in-status applicants, on the date an asylum officer denies your asylum application; 
  • 30 days after an immigration judge denies your asylum application, unless you file a timely appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals; or 
  • On the date the Board of Immigration Appeals affirms or upholds a denial. 

ALERT: If you are applying for your initial (first) employment authorization based on having a pending asylum application, you may be a member of the class action case, Rosario v. USCIS, Case No. C15-0813JLR (W.D. Wash. July 26, 2018). To learn more, visit the Rosario Class Action page.

Bringing Your Family to the United States

If you are granted asylum you may petition to bring your spouse and children to the United States by filing a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.

You must file the petition within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline. There is no fee to file this petition. 

Filing for Permanent Residence (Green Card)

You may apply for a Green Card one year after being granted asylum. To apply for a Green Card, file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. You must submit a separate I-485 application packet for yourself and, if applicable, for each family member who received derivative asylum based on your case.

For more information about Green Cards, see our Green Cards for Asylees page. For more information about asylum, see our Asylum Questions and Answers page.

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