Who is eligible?

Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear that they will suffer persecution on account of their race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Anyone in the United States may apply for asylum by contacting USCIS, regardless of their country of origin or current immigration status. Applications must be filed within one year of arrival to the United States.

To be considered for asylum within the United States, you must:

  • Be physically present in the United States, regardless of how you arrived,
  • Be in the United States less than one year from the date of your last arrival, and
  • Demonstrate that you have suffered persecution or that you have a well-founded fear that you will suffer persecution on account of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

You may include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old on your application. You can do this at the time you file your application or at any time before USCIS makes a final decision on your case.

If you are not eligible for asylum, you might be eligible for withholding of removal, which prevents the U.S. government from sending you to your home country during the time that your life or freedom may be threatened. Unlike a request for asylum, you can ask for withholding of removal even if more than one year has passed since your last date of arrival to the United States. However, this form of relief is only available in immigration court and does not include family members.

How to Apply

To apply for asylum through the affirmative application process, you must:

  • Complete the Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. Review the form instructions for directions.
  • Filing Fee(s). There are no filing fees for this form.
  • Submit Evidence. Include all required initial evidence and supporting documentation.
  • Submit Copies. Include two copies of your completed application along with the original. Also include a copy for your spouse and each child included in the application.
  • Submit Photographs. Include one passport-style photograph of yourself and each family member listed on the application.
  • Sign and File the Form I-589. File your application at the correct filing location according to the form instructions.

The other way of applying for asylum in the United States is defensively in removal proceedings before an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

See Defensive Asylum Processing with EOIR for more information.

What Happens After You Apply