Asylum

Human Rights First

Asylum is a form of immigration protection for individuals persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Asylum will only be granted in the U.S. if the individual does not have an offer for firm resettlement in a third country.

A grant of asylum is permanent. Asylum generally automatically extends to an individual’s family.

Individuals who are in the U.S. and entered lawfully typically apply for asylum with USCIS. It is a complicated process, we recommend getting legal representation to assist with this process.

The process is initiated by filing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. A successful submission will include many supporting documents to substantiate the claim.

Please note that for parolees who entered after July 31, 2021, USCIS is scheduling asylum interviews within 45 days of I-589 filing. This is an expedited timeline so all supporting documentation you intend to submit should be ready when you file the I-589, as you will likely receive your interview notice within a matter of weeks.

Individuals in the United States must apply for asylum within one year of their entry into the United States, with some exceptions — if you have a status like parole, temporary protected status, or have a student visa, you must file within a reasonable amount of time of that status expiring.

For Afghans who were paroled into the U.S. through Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), our recommendation is to file for asylum before parole status expires.

After submitting Form I-589, the applicant and each listed family member will need to appear for a biometrics appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center. USCIS will then schedule an interview at the local Asylum Office.

The principal applicant and all beneficiaries must appear in-person at the interview. If needed, the Asylum Office provides interpretation. If you need an interpreter, please notify the Asylum Office before the interview.

If your application is approved, you and your derivative family members (legal spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 who are listed on the I-589) immediately get asylee status.

If your eligible family members are outside of the United States, you can petition for them to join you in the U.S. by filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition for each family member. Please note that in order to process these petitions, eligible family members will need to appear at a U.S. Embassy for a consular interview.

Because Afghanistan no longer has a U.S. consulate, your family member will need to travel outside of Afghanistan to complete this process and get an immigrant visa for the U.S.

One year after a grant of asylum, asylees can file for permanent residency in the U.S. Asylees can file to obtain their U.S. citizenship and a U.S. passport five years after the date on their greencard.

If you have other status, like parole or Temporary Protected Status, USCIS will either approve or deny asylum. USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) to let you know they intend to deny and will give you an opportunity to respond and convince the Asylum Office that you qualify for asylum. If your application is ultimately denied, then you go back to your underlying status and will need to explore other options to remain permanently in the U.S.

If you are no longer in lawful status when a decision is made, USCIS will either grant asylum or refer the case to immigration court for de novo review by an immigration judge.

For more resources about asylum, please visit PALA’s pro bono library.

Department of State videos about asylum:

English Version

Dari Version

Pashtu Version

American Bar Association and HIAS P Pro Se Asylum toolkit, which has been translated into Dari and Pashto.

VECINA’s comprehensive course on affirmative asylum representation for Afghans after the fall of the Taliban in August 2021

Immigrant Justice Campaign’s resources for Afghan asylum cases.

National Immigrant Justice Center Asylum Manual

Immigration Equality Asylum Manual

KYR on Asylum in Pashtu

KYR on Asylum in Dari