The affirmative asylum process allows immigrants to apply for asylum in the United States. There’s a set of specific steps to follow, and affirmative asylum doesn’t help immigrants in the middle of removal proceedings in New Jersey or another state.
Applying for asylum
An immigrant needs to be physically in the United States to apply for asylum. The first thing a person should do is file Form I-589, which is an application for withholding removal and asylum. There are a few exceptions, but a person needs to file the form with USCIS within a year of arriving in the country. Under current immigration laws, a person who waits longer than 365 days to file for asylum isn’t eligible. If there’s a previous asylum application denial or there is a safe country they can go back to, a person isn’t eligible for asylum.
After an immigrant applies for asylum, they will receive a receipt notice and an ASC appointment notice. Fingerprinting is free for asylum seekers. If a spouse or children are part of the asylum-seeking, they should go to the ASC appointment.
Under immigration law, an asylum seeker will receive an interview notice next. As of Jan. 29, 2018, the USCIS uses a priority system. First-priority interviews are for applicants with rescheduled appointments. Second-priority interviews are applicants who have been waiting three weeks or less. All other applicants are third-priority interviews. Asylum directors of the offices can consider each application on a case-by-case basis.
Asylum officer decisions
Immigration law allows an asylum seeker to have an attorney for representation. An asylum seeker needs to bring an interpreter to the interview if they don’t understand English. An officer interview takes about an hour. An officer looks at three main things:
• Is the immigrant eligible for asylum?
• Does the immigrant meet the refugee standards?
• Has the immigrant had an asylum denial before?
The affirmative asylum process can take time. When a determination is made, the office usually mails the decision to the asylum seeker.