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Seeking asylum: What to expect

As someone who is traveling from a dangerous, politically unstable country to the United States, you’ll be seeking asylum. Asylum is provided to people who have suffered persecution or who fear they will due to their political opinions, membership in a social group, nationality, race or religion.

Those who qualify for asylum may stay in the United States, but you must first apply and have your application accepted to avoid removal. You need to apply for asylum within one year of the date you arrive in the United States by using Form I-589.

Is there a fee to apply for asylum?

It’s clear that many people applying for asylum have little money or property to their names, so there is no cost to apply for asylum in the United States. The application can include you, your spouse and your children as long as you’re all in the United States. You can add them to your application at any time until you receive a final decision on the request. Children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried to apply for asylum with their parents.

What happens to your family overseas or out of the country?

Once you receive asylum, you can seek to bring your spouse or children to the United States. You’ll fill out Form I-730 to do so. This form has to be filled out and submitted within two years of the date when you received asylum. Sometimes, there are reasons that allow for this deadline to be extended, so it’s a good idea to discuss your specific case with your immigration attorney if you’re not sure if you can still apply for your loved ones’ stay in the United States. Even if you file this after you first receive asylum, there is no fee.

Does asylum grant you the right to stay in the U.S. permanently?

No, you still need to apply for permanent residency. You can do this a year after you’re granted asylum. Each person in your family has to apply with Form I-485 separately. You may apply to work in the United States before this, but you cannot apply at the same time as when you apply for asylum. You application for employment also has no fee the first time it’s submitted, but second or third submissions do. For that reason, it’s important to get the documents correct the first time they’re submitted.