What is the Procedure for Filing for Asylum or Withholding of Removal?
The applicant must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum or Withholding of Removal. The same form is used for both forms of relief. The application may include additional supporting evidence. The applicant’s spouse and children may be included in the request for asylum if they are in the United States and should be listed in the application.
Time to File the Application
The Form I-589 may be filed at any time that the alien is physically present in the United States. The alien may file the application whether he is in legal status or not. The application may be filed affirmatively to seek asylum at any time that the alien is not in removal proceedings. The alien may also file Form I-589 while in removal proceedings as a defensive measure against such proceedings. If possible, Form I-589 should be filed no later than one year after the alien’s entry into the U.S. to avoid missing the one-year filing deadline for asylum cases.
Place to File the Application
- Affirmative Filing – An applicant may voluntarily file Form I-589 with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over asylum applications for the state in which he/she resides. This is not necessarily the same service center for processing general immigration matters for this state.
- Filing During Removal Proceedings – An alien who has been placed in removal proceedings may file Form I-589 with the Immigration Court (IC) hearing his/her removal proceedings.
Effect of Filing the Application
Filing Form I-589 entitles the applicant to seek both forms of relief (Asylum AND Withholding of Removal). Where a determination is made that an applicant is ineligible to apply for asylum, an asylum application shall be construed as an application for withholding of removal. Information provided in the application may be used as a basis for the initiation of removal proceedings, or to satisfy any burden of proof in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings.