I-589: How to Apply for Asylum in the U.S.
Are you in the United States to escape political unrest, danger, or persecution in your home country? Do you want to seek asylum in the United States for a peaceful life ahead? If you answered yes to both of these questions, this article is for you. We will go over Form I-589 and the entire procedure that needs to be followed to gain asylum in the U.S.
As a matter of fact, Mexico has the highest U.S. asylum denial rates quickly followed by Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Somalia, and India. Therefore, if you are from any of these countries, you need to present a strong case to get qualified.
What Is Form I-589?
For starters, Form I-589 is the main form you will need to fill out for attaining asylum and for withholding deportation from the United States. You can easily download the form online by visiting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
You may apply for asylum if you are not a United States citizen and are physically present in the country.
You can file Form I-589 under two situations:
- Affirmative asylum application (Under this, the applicant can apply for asylum outside of deportation.)
- Defensive asylum application (In this case, the applicant is applying for asylum as a defensive measure during removal proceedings.)
Broadly, you can apply for asylum if:
- You are legally in the U.S.
- You have not been denied asylum in the U.S. before.
- You have not been convicted of a crime.
How to Complete Form I-589?
Although it is easy to file Form I-589, you might find a few fields confusing. Here is a step-by-step process to filling out Form I-589.
Note: It is important to mention here that Form I-589 is filled out under penalty of untruthfulness. This essentially means that the application may have to face serious consequences if the information provided to the authorities is false.
Part A I: “Information About You”
Part A mostly focuses on the personal information of the applicant and their spouse. Most of the questions under this section are self-explanatory and easy to answer. You will be asked to provide your Alien number (A#), which is an eight or nine-digit number starting with A.
Additionally, you will be asked to provide your Social Security Number (if you have one), if you have a USCIS online account, your name, address, and other identifying information.
Part A II: “Information About Your Spouse and Children”
As the name indicates, this part focuses on the information about your spouse and children. Answer questions 1-24 completely if you are married, and if not, check the applicable box. If you have children, answer the questions numbered 1-21 completely. In the case of more than four children, it is necessary to attach supplement A.
Part A. III: “Information About Your Background”
This section attempts to know your background better. You will be asked to provide your last address before you moved to the United States and a few other questions related to your education, employment, parents, siblings, residences, and so on.
Part B: “Information About Your Application”
This section is important as the information you provide here will play a huge role in deciding if you are eligible for asylum or not. It is recommended to provide as much information as possible, illustrate your situation in good detail, and support your information with the relevant dates, locations, and names.
However, care should be taken that you remain as truthful as possible and only provide the absolute truthful information.
Part C: “Additional Information About Your Application”
In this section, you will be encouraged to provide additional information related to your application. You will be asked to provide details of any previous asylum requests that you might have made, any prior foreign trips that you might have undertaken, and so on.
Part D: “Your Signature”
Although self-explanatory, you are required to sign the form in your native alphabet, and also provide your name in English. You must also be truthful regarding who helped you in completing the form—whether it’s your child or another person.
Part E: “Declaration of Person Preparing Form, if Other Than the Applicant, Spouse, Parent, or Child
If you had your form prepared by someone else, it is necessary to indicate that in your form. Essentially, Part E is meant for the person who helped you fill out the form.
Part F. “To Be Completed at the Asylum Interview, if Applicable”
Note that you are not required to complete this section. This section is required to be filled out at the Asylum interview only if you have applied for an affirmative asylum application. If yes, you will soon be required to attend an asylum interview.
Part G. “To Be Completed at the Removal Hearing, if Applicable”
Again, you are not required to complete this section. This section must only be filled out during the removal proceedings, only if you have applied for a defensive asylum application.
How Much Does Form I-589 Cost?
The good news is that you are not required to pay any application fee to apply for asylum. Therefore, if you want to take the process into your own hands without going to an attorney, you are not required to pay any fee to the USCIS.
However, since the entire process is utterly complex, it is recommended to hire an attorney whose fee will depend on a range of factors—like the complexity of your case, their experience, and the procedural stage at which are your applying for asylum.
In addition to the attorney fee, you might also be required to incur additional expenses in the form of photocopying, mailing, conducting a medical evaluation, and so on.
Form I-589 Processing Time
As expected, the entire process is quite complicated. It involves 12 pages of questions and an additional 14 pages of in-depth instructions. We will not say that this is the longest government document ever, it is undoubtedly comprehensive, and all this can take a good amount of time to get processed.
Not only that, but applicants will also be required to go through a biometrics appointment. This is not anything scary, but basically, applicants go through various identity-based evaluations related to their body.
Once the biometrics appointment is done, the next step is an interview with an asylum officer. Applicants are invited for an interview typically 21 days after the application is filed.
That said, the entire process is quite comprehensive and complicated at the same time. All in all, on average, it takes 180 days for your asylum application to get processed, from application to decision.
It is important to mention here that the final decision in this process is not always final. Applicants can always refer their case to an immigration court in which the final decision is provided by an immigration judge.
The Wrap Up
Form I-589 might be a very important form that could decide your future. A positive final result will likely bring a glorious and smooth life ahead, while a negative decision might impact you adversely. This is the reason why it is highly recommended to familiarize yourself with the entire process. If needed, hire an attorney to gain the best possible results.