What is Affirmative Asylum?

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What is Affirmative Asylum?

Affirmative action is when someone who fears persecution in their native country applies for protection under U.S. asylum law. Preparing and filing an affirmative asylum application is a very involved process with stringent requirements that must be satisfied if the application is to be approved. As is the case in many immigration matters, it is best for one seeking asylum to have the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.

To successfully pursue an asylum application, the applicant must go through a series of steps as follows:

Apply for Asylum

To apply for asylum, you will need to file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within one year of your last entry into the United States. Your application will be rejected if you file it after the one year has ended unless you can establish that you qualify for an exception provided under the law.

Bars to Asylum Application

Your application for asylum can be rejected or denied on grounds you are barred from applying for asylum if you:

  • Filed your application more than one year after you last arrived in the United States
  • Previously filed an asylum application which was denied by USCIS or by an immigration judge or by the Board of Immigration Appeals
  • Can be removed (deported) to a safe third country under an agreement between the United States and that country or others the U.S. government has agreements to receive individuals in your similar situation.

The law provides exceptions to these bars, whether you qualify for those exceptions is something you will need to discuss and be advised by an experienced asylum lawyer.

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

After you have submitted your application, you will receive an appointment notice to have your fingerprints taken. Your spouse and children should come with you to the appointment if you also seek asylum status for them.

Interview Notice

You will next receive a notice of your interview date. Depending on where you live, this interview will be scheduled with an asylum officer either at USCIS’s eight asylum offices across the country, the two asylum sub-offices, or at a USCIS field office near you. The interview notice will inform you about the date, location, and time of your asylum interview.


You have the option to appear by yourself, but you may also bring a lawyer or USCIS accredited representative to the interview. In either case, you must also bring your spouse and any children who you have included in your application as seeking derivative asylum benefits.

Determination of Asylum Application

Following your interview, the asylum officer interviewing you will determine whether you:

  • Are eligible to apply for asylum
  • Meet the definition of a refugee as defined under the law
  • Are barred from being approved for asylum under the applicable law

Call an Immigration Lawyer

If you believe you are eligible to apply for asylum and are in the Chicago area, contact us today, and one of our experienced lawyers will provide you with consultation on how best to proceed with your application.