If you are reading this blog (which presumably, you are), you already know about the massive delays at our nation's Asylum Offices. There are currently about 543,000 pending cases, and some applicants have been waiting for an interview for six, seven, eight years or longer. Given that life happens during this long wait, applicants sometimes want to withdraw their application for asylum. In this post, we'll talk about when it might be appropriate to withdraw a case and how to do that.

First, to be clear, the only asylum cases that can be withdrawn are those at the Asylum Office. If you have a case in Immigration Court, you can withdraw your asylum application, but this will likely result in an order of removal (deportation) unless you have some alternate form of relief (or if you receive prosecutorial discretion).

For a case at the Asylum Office, there are really only a few situations where you would want to withdraw the asylum claim: (1) Where you have left the United States; (2) Where you have received a Green Card; or (3) Where you have some valid non-immigrant status, such as an H1b visa that allows you to remain lawfully in the United States. If you are in the U.S. and have no legal status here, withdrawing the application will result in a referral to Immigration Court (assuming that the Asylum Office even allows you to withdraw the application under these circumstances).

Probably the two most common scenarios that I see where people want to withdraw is when they obtain a Green Card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, or when they leave the United States. For a marriage case (or other Green Card case), I always recommend that my clients get the Green Card before they seek to withdraw their asylum application. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that until you actually have the Green Card, you cannot be sure whether or when you will get it. Withdrawing the case too soon, before you have your residency, could result in a referral to Immigration Court--and this could easily derail your Green Card application.

Similarly, for people who leave the United States, I advise them to wait until they are outside the country before seeking to withdraw the asylum application. If you withdraw the case before you leave, you could be referred to Immigration Court and--depending how the court case ends--this could make it much more difficult to return to the U.S. in the future.

Let's say that you have decided to withdraw your application for asylum. How do you do it?

The easiest way to withdraw a case is to email your local Asylum Office and ask that the case be withdrawn. You can find their email address if you follow this link.

A typical request to withdraw might look like this (this request was written by me, so I indicated that I am the attorney):

Subject: Withdraw Asylum Case - Bobbi FLEKMAN, A 314-159-265

Dear Asylum Office -
I am the attorney of record in the above-listed case. The above-listed Applicant has obtained a Green Card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen. She now wishes to withdraw her asylum case. Please find attached the following:
- Withdrawal Form
- Applicant's Green Card
- Form G-28 listing me as the attorney
Please let me know if you have questions or need any additional information.
Thank you, Jason

Some explanation is in order. In the subject line of the email, I indicate that we want to withdraw the application, and we include the name of the applicant and the Alien number. In the email itself, we include the reason why the person seeks to withdraw the case (for example, the person left the U.S. or the person received a Green Card) and we attach proof about that (visa and passport stamps showing that the person left the country, or a copy of the Green Card, front and back). Some Asylum Offices have a Withdrawal Form; others do not. You can email your local Asylum Office to ask, but if you do not have the form you can still make the request to withdraw your case. If the Asylum Office needs the Withdrawal Form, they can let you know.

After you email the Asylum Office, most offices will send you an automated reply. After that, you will have to wait for a decision or a request for additional information. This could happen the same day or--more likely--take weeks or months. If there is no response within a month or two, you can follow up with another email.

Eventually, the Asylum Office will make a decision. If you are outside the United States or if you have lawful status here (a Green Card or some non-immigrant status), the application will be withdrawn and the case closed. Keep in mind that withdrawing the case does not erase the fact that you filed for asylum in the first place, and so if you plan to return to your home country or engage in any other behavior that might be inconsistent with your asylum case, you should be prepared to explain yourself.

Also--and this is important--if you have dependents (spouse, children) on your asylum application, the case will be withdrawn for them as well. If they have left the U.S. or have lawful status here, you must also provide evidence of that to the Asylum Office when you request to withdraw your case. If not, the dependents could be placed into removal proceedings (i.e., Immigration Court) where they face possible deportation.

Finally, I have to say that I feel bad writing this post. Our country's asylum system represents a commitment to protect people facing human rights abuses. The fact that asylum applicants are stuck for years in limbo, causing some to withdraw their cases, demonstrates how poorly our system is working. I know that the Biden Administration is trying to improve the situation, and hopefully, their efforts will reduce wait times and bring relief to long-suffering asylum applicants.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com