How Do I Apply for Asylum?

STEP 1: Initial Filing

The asylum applicant works with their immigration attorney to gather required documents and fill out Form I-589 and start personal statement. (2-3 weeks)

  • Form I-589, application for asylum and for withholding of removal
    • Application for asylum contains questions about applicant’s biographical information, address, employment history, immigration status, and details about the asylum claim.
    • Asylum statement (first draft)
      • Applicant explains why he/she is are afraid to return to their home country. Statement should include any threats or harm applicant experienced in the past including date, location, and the group or person involved in each incident.
      • Applicant should also describe any threats or harm experienced by family members, friends, or colleagues.
    • Note: Immigration lawyer and applicant work together to improve the statement prior to submitting final draft to the asylum office.
  • Passport bio page & U.S. visa(s)
  • Two new passport-style photos
    • Bring photos to the immigration attorney’s office when you meet to sign your completed forms.
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable)
  • List of all international travel (include travel dates and purpose for each trip)
    • List of all asylum-related evidence
    • May include witness statements, police/medical reports, court documents, photos, social media posts, screenshots of messages, news articles, transcribed videos/phone calls, evidence of group membership, tribal affiliations, etc.


STEP 2: Biometrics Appointment

After the application for asylum is mailed, the applicant will receive a notice from USCIS confirming receipt of the asylum application. The applicant will then receive a fingerprint appointment letter designating a time and place for the applicant to appear for fingerprinting and photos.

  • Receipt notice from USCIS (1-2 weeks after filing)
  • Fingerprint appointment notice from USCIS (1-2 weeks after receipt notice)
    • You must bring the notice and a photo ID to your fingerprint appointment.


STEP 3: Full Asylum Case

The applicant will work with their immigration lawyer to complete their case before their interview date. The applicant’s completed case will include the notarized asylum declaration, civil documents, evidence supporting the asylum case, country conditions research, and the attorney’s written legal analysis. The timeframe for this step varies, depending on the asylum office interview schedule.

  • Notarized asylum declaration (final draft)
    • Applicant and attorney will work together to edit and finalize the asylum declaration.
    • Applicant should have the declaration notarized prior to the asylum interview date.
  • Civil documents
    • May include IDs, certifications, academic records, residential documents, etc.
  • Additional asylum-related evidence
    • Any asylum-related evidence not previously submitted.
  • Stamped USCIS fingerprint notice
  • Copy of employment authorization card (if applicable).


STEP 4: Asylum Interview

The immigration attorney will accompany the applicant to the asylum interview. Asylum interviews typically range from two to four hours. The timing of interview dates vary, depending on the asylum office interview schedule. Be sure to bring:

  • Originals of all available documents submitted
  • Passport & photo IDs
  • Any new evidence not previously submitted
  • Copy of I-589 application and complete asylum case


Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The United States provides temporary protected status (TPS) to certain persons who cannot return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or any other type of humanitarian disaster that has been determined to warrant temporary protection under U.S. immigration laws. If you are currently in the United States and are a citizen of one of the countries listed, you may be eligible for temporary protected status and work authorization.

As of August 2019, the following countries are currently designated for TPS:

  1. El Salvador
  2. Haiti
  3. Honduras
  4. Nepal
  5. Nicaragua
  6. Somalia
  7. South Sudan
  8. Sudan
  9. Syria
  10. Yemen

To apply for TPS, you must file during the open initial registration or re-registration period. If you’ve missed the deadline to apply for TPS, you may meet the requirements for late initial filing if your country’s TPS status is to be extended.

You may check the your country’s registration dates here.

In addition to being present in the U.S. during the TPS registration period, other continuous residence and physical presence requirements apply. Feel free to reach out to our immigration lawyers to set up a consultation to determine TPS eligibility.


Need to apply for TPS in the U.S. as soon as possible? Got specific questions about how to apply for asylum in the U.S.? At The Law Office of Lindsey J. Harris in Houston, our immigration lawyers treat every person as an individual and go the extra mile to make sure our services get customized correctly for each situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!