What is Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal?
Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, is a document used by individuals who are in the United States and seeking protection as refugees. It is the official application form for requesting asylum in the U.S. and for requesting withholding of removal.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Withholding of removal is another form of protection, but it has a higher burden of proof compared to asylum. If an individual can establish that it is more likely than not that they would face persecution or torture in their home country, they may be eligible for withholding of removal. This protection prevents the individual from being removed from the U.S. and deported to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.
Individuals facing these circumstances may apply for asylum or withholding of removal by filing Form I-589 if they are present at a U.S. port of entry or have entered the U.S. In most cases, applicants must file Form I-589 within 1 year of arriving in the U.S., or they will not be considered eligible for asylum.
There is currently no cost to file Form I-589. USCIS may also require biometrics services, which is also at no cost to asylum applicants.
In general, USCIS will issue a decision or next steps on an asylum application within 180 days after the filing date, unless there are exceptional circumstances. You can learn more about the different stages of the asylum process in the section below.
The general steps to apply for asylum in the U.S. are as follows:
- Be Physically Present in the United States: In order to apply for asylum, you must be physically present in the U.S.
- File Form I-589: Complete and submit Form I-589. Make sure to read the form instructions carefully and provide all the necessary information and supporting documentation. Form I-589 requires applicants to provide information about the basis for the asylum claim, such as the reasons for seeking protection and any supporting evidence.
- Filing Deadline: It is crucial to file your asylum application within one year of your arrival in the U.S., unless you qualify for an exception. Failure to meet the deadline may result in your application being denied, although there are exceptions for changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances.
- Biometrics Appointment: After you submit your asylum application, you will likely receive a notice to appear for a biometrics appointment. At this appointment, your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken for background checks.
- Asylum Interview: Once your biometrics are collected, you will be scheduled for an asylum interview with an asylum officer from USCIS. The purpose of this interview is to evaluate the credibility of your claim and gather additional information about your case.
- Receive a Decision: After the asylum interview, USCIS will make a decision on your asylum application. They may approve, deny, or refer your case to an immigration court for further review. If your case is referred to the immigration court, you will have an opportunity to present your case before an immigration judge.
- Immigration Court Proceedings: If your case is referred to the immigration court, you will attend hearings before an immigration judge. You will have the opportunity to present evidence, testify, and argue your case. It is recommended to have legal representation during these court proceedings. You can learn more about navigating immigration court in Boundless’ guide.
It’s important to note that the asylum process can be complex, and the steps may vary depending on individual circumstances.
Who is eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S.?
Individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion may be eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S.
Can I file Form I-589 if I’m in the U.S. illegally?
Yes, it is possible to apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status or whether you’re in the country illegally. You must still file Form I-589 within one year of entering the U.S.
Is there a deadline for applying for asylum?
Yes, in general, asylum applications must be filed within one year of the applicant’s arrival in the U.S. However, there are exceptions and waivers to this deadline, such as changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances.
What is the difference between asylum and withholding of removal?
Asylum is a discretionary form of protection that allows individuals to remain in the U.S. and potentially pursue permanent residency. Withholding of removal, on the other hand, is a mandatory protection that prevents an individual from being removed to a country where they would face persecution or torture. As mentioned above, the standard of proof for withholding of removal is higher than that of asylum.
Can I work in the U.S. while my Form I-589 asylum application is pending?
In most cases, individuals who have filed for asylum and their Form I-589 has been pending for at least 150 days can apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) to legally work in the U.S.
What happens if my Form I-589 is denied?
If your asylum application is denied by USCIS, your case may be referred to an immigration court for further review. In the immigration court, you will have the opportunity to present your case before an immigration judge and seek relief from removal. Learn more here.
Can I include my spouse and children on my Form I-589 asylum application?
Yes, you can typically include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old in your asylum application, or they may file their own separate applications if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Can I travel outside the U.S. while my asylum application is pending?
Generally speaking, it is not recommended to travel outside the U.S. while your Form I-589 is pending, as it may be considered an abandonment of your asylum application. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to obtain an advance parole travel document for urgent or emergency travel needs.