Asylum: What You Need to Know


Are you afraid of returning to your home country? If so, you may be eligible for Asylum. Note that filing for Asylum is different if you are in Removal Proceedings. In this article, we will address filing for Asylum for those who are not in Removal Proceedings, otherwise known as affirmatively. Eligibility for Asylum is based on your past persecution, or fear of future persecution, on account of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This fear must be particular to you. It is not enough that your home country is generally unsafe. You must be able to explain why you are particularly unsafe.

To file for Asylum, you will need to mail your documents to the USCIS Service Center. In this submission, you must include an application, Form I-589, as well as supporting documents. There is no filing fee. These supporting documents will need to corroborate your claim. This can be in the form of affidavits by others who have experienced similar treatment or those who are familiar with your situation. Other supporting documents include country condition reports, news articles, and photos, to name only a few. The more documents you can provide, the stronger your case can be.

You must file for Asylum within your first year of entering the United States. If you file, even a day late, you may be deemed ineligible. There are some exceptions, however it is important to discuss them with an immigration attorney to determine whether your situation qualifies for an exception. Some exceptions include changed country conditions, or exceptional circumstances beyond your control. Regardless of your situation, it is important to file as soon as possible.

After you file for Asylum, you will be scheduled for an interview with an Asylum Officer. In the past, it could take years for your case to be scheduled for an interview. However, as of January 2018, Asylum Offices have changed their policy to allow for all new cases to be scheduled prior to older cases, or a “last in, first out” policy. When you attend your interview, the Officer will ask you questions about your application and make a determination.

While your case is pending, you may be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD Card. This will allow you to work lawfully in the United States and will enable you to obtain a Social Security Number. You are eligible to file for an EAD card after your case has been pending with the Asylum Office for 150 days.

If your case is approved, you are eligible to file for your green card, Form I-485, one year from the date of approval of your Asylum case. If your case is denied, and you do not have any underlying status, you will be referred to the Immigration Court where you will have another opportunity to present your case before an Immigration Judge, or explore other forms of relief. Because there may be the potential for your case to be referred to the Immigration Court, it is a good idea to meet with a qualified immigration attorney prior to filing an application for Asylum.

There have been many proposed changes to the Asylum process, including eliminating authorization for employment, adding a filing fee to the application, and deeming those who entered without inspection ineligible to apply. However, these are only proposed changes and have not been adopted into the immigration law. Nevertheless, it is important to remain alert to the changes in Asylum law as well as work with an immigration attorney who can determine the best strategy for your Asylum case.

To schedule a consultation with Samantha Chasworth, Esq. or with any of the other Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, please feel free to call the Firm at 201-670-0006 x (107). Our main office is in Ridgewood, New Jersey. We also have offices located in Branchburg, New Jersey and New York City, as well as affiliated offices in India and Canada. For more information about our Firm’s immigration and nationality law practice, please feel free to visit our website at or to send us an e-mail at

About The Author

Samantha Chasworth, Esq. is Counsel at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., a pre-eminent International Immigration and Nationality Law Firm dedicated to providing a wide array of business and family immigration law services for skilled U.S.-and Canada-bound workers. Ms. Chasworth earned a Juris Doctorate (JD) from the St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, New York, where she was an editor on the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development and participated in numerous immigration and family law clinics and internships including time at the US-Mexico Border at the Karnes County Civil Detention Center. She also has authored articles primarily on the topic of immigration and first amendment rights. Prior to law school, she received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with Honors from the State University of New York at Buffalo earning degrees in both Political Science and Spanish and studied abroad in Cusco, Peru. Ms. Chasworth’s experience in the U.S. immigration arena include general removal defense, bond hearings, asylum, cancellation of removal, u visa applications, family-based petitions, hardship waivers, and consular processing, as well as criminal immigration law matters. She is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is fluent in Spanish.

David Nachman, Esq. is one of the Managing Attorneys at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., a pre-eminent International Immigration and Nationality Law Firm dedicated to providing a wide array of business and family immigration law services for skilled U.S.-and Canada-bound workers. The Attorneys in our Law Firm assist clients with waivers, marriage cases, citizenship applications, I-130 sponsorship for family, etc.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.