My immigration court case was “dismissed.” What will happen now?

Last updated on November 1, 2023

Since 2022, the U.S. government has “dismissed” thousands of immigration court cases for immigrants across the country. Many asylum seekers received phone calls or learned at an immigration court hearing that the government wanted to dismiss (or close) their cases. Most of the dismissed cases belonged to people who had arrived in the United States before November 2020.

For many asylum seekers in immigration court, it could be good news that your case was dismissed. It means that the government is no longer trying to deport you and they are ending your case in immigration court.

Continue reading for more information, including new instructions from USCIS published in October 2023. Thank you to ASAP members who advocated for these better instructions about applying for asylum and work permits after dismissal!

Who is this resource for?

This resource is for asylum seekers who had a case in immigration court that was dismissed. This resource is not relevant to all asylum seekers. If you are already applying for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or you still have an active immigration court case, this post is not applicable to you.

What will happen to my work permit?

The answer depends on the status of your work permit when your immigration court case was dismissed. The information below applies to people whose work permits are based on seeking asylum.

  • If you have never received a work permit as an asylum seeker before, you can apply for an initial work permit IF you submit another asylum application to USCIS. Read more below.
  • If you have a valid work permit and you do not have a renewal application pending, you can continue to use your work permit until the expiration date. However, if you want to renew your work permit, you will need to submit another asylum application to USCIS first. Read more below.
  • If you submitted a work permit renewal application before your court case was dismissed, and you submitted the application before your work permit expired, you can still use your work permit for the period of your automatic extension. Also, if you submit another asylum application to USCIS, you should send additional documents to USCIS as soon as possible. Read more below.
  • If your work permit has expired and you do not have a renewal application pending, you can only apply to renew your work permit if you decide to submit another asylum application to USCIS. Read more below.

What will happen to my asylum case?

If you applied for asylum in immigration court and your case was dismissed, your asylum case has also ended, without a final decision. Your next steps depend on whether or not you want to continue seeking asylum or not.

  • If you do NOT want to continue seeking asylum, you do not need to take any action. It may still be a good idea for you to speak with an attorney to determine if you qualify for another immigration status.
  • If you DO want to continue seeking asylum, you should submit a new asylum application to USCIS as soon as possible! You must send a new asylum application to USCIS, even if you already submitted one to the immigration court. This will begin the process of seeking asylum with USCIS instead of immigration court.
  • If you are unsure about whether to continue seeking asylum with USCIS, you can read this post for more information or talk to an attorney about your options. Find legal assistance here.

When should I submit my asylum application if I decide to seek asylum with USCIS?

If you decide to seek asylum with USCIS after your immigration court case is dismissed, you should submit your asylum application as soon as possible!

  • If you already submitted your asylum application to immigration court, you should submit your new application to USCIS as soon as you can. If you wait too long, USCIS may say that your application is late. Unfortunately, we do not know what USCIS would consider too late, so it is best to submit your application as soon as possible.
  • If you did not already submit an asylum application before your immigration court case was dismissed, you should submit your application to USCIS within one year of arriving in the United States.

How do I submit my asylum application if I decide to seek asylum with USCIS?

If you decide to seek asylum with USCIS after your immigration court case is dismissed, you should submit an asylum application (Form I-589) to USCIS by mail. You cannot file Form I-589 online in this situation at this time.

1. Complete Form I-589.

  • Follow these general instructions.
  • Check that you are using the most current version of Form I-589. You can download the most current version of the form on this USCIS website. If the Form I-589 you previously submitted in immigration court was an older version of the form, you should fill out a new form. If you submit an older version, USCIS will reject your application.
  • After you are done filling out your new application, review your old and new applications carefully. Make sure that the information on the new application matches the old one. If the information is different, include an explanation why.

2. Include proof that your immigration court case was dismissed. 

  • It is best to include a copy of the immigration judge’s order dismissing your case.
  • If you do not have the order, you can look up your case on this immigration court website and include a printout of that webpage in English.

3. Include proof that you submitted a previous asylum application, if you applied for asylum in immigration court.

  • You can include a copy of the stamped first page of your asylum application (Form I-589) that you submitted to immigration court before your case was dismissed.
  • If you do not have this, you can try to call the immigration court to find out how you can get a copy. Find contact information for immigration courts here.
  • After USCIS receives your asylum application, USCIS should send you a receipt notice with the date when you originally submitted your asylum application to immigration court. You can use the original date to show that you applied for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. You can also use this original date to determine when you can apply for your initial work permit. Read more below.

4. Mail your completed asylum application package to USCIS.

  • The USCIS address depends on where you live. You can find the correct address on this USCIS webpage, under “Where to File.”
  • At this time, you cannot submit your asylum application online after an immigration court case is dismissed. You must submit your asylum application by mail.

5. Check your mail for a receipt notice.

  • After USCIS receives your asylum application, they should send you a receipt notice in the mail.
  • If you previously submitted an asylum application in immigration court, check that the “Received Date” is correct. It should be the date that you originally submitted your asylum application to immigration court. If it is not correct, you can contact your local asylum office to request a corrected receipt notice.
  • Learn more about the process of seeking asylum with USCIS here.

I never received a work permit as an asylum seeker before. When can I apply for my first work permit?

You can apply for an initial work permit after you submit your new asylum application to USCIS and USCIS sends you a receipt notice. Generally, asylum seekers must wait 150 days after submitting an asylum application to apply for a work permit. How you calculate the 150 days depends on whether or not you submitted an asylum application in immigration court before your case was dismissed.

If you did NOT submit an asylum application in immigration court before your case was dismissed, you can count the 150 days from the date that USCIS received your asylum application. You can find the received date on your receipt notice for the asylum application.

If you DID submit an asylum application in immigration court before your case was dismissed, and then you submitted a new asylum application to USCIS, counting the 150 days can be more complicated.

  • First, call the immigration court hotline at 1-800-898-7180, press 1 for instructions in English, enter your A number, enter 1 to confirm your A number, enter 1 to confirm your name, and then enter 2 to learn the number of days that your asylum application was pending in the immigration court before your case was dismissed.
  • If the hotline says you have 150 days or more, you can apply for your work permit right away.
  • If the hotline says you have less than 150 days, then add together the number of days from the hotline, plus the number of days since USCIS received your new asylum application. When the total is 150 days or more, you can apply for your work permit. You can find the date that USCIS received your asylum application on your receipt notice.

I never received a work permit as an asylum seeker before. How do I apply for my first work permit?

Once you have waited long enough, you can prepare and submit your work permit package to USCIS.

1. Follow the general instructions for applying for your initial work permit here. You can apply online or by mail. You should also include the documents listed below.

2. Include proof of your new asylum application with USCIS, such as your receipt notice.

3. Include proof of your previous asylum application, if you previously applied for asylum in immigration court before your case was dismissed.

4. Include proof that your immigration court case has been dismissed.

  • It is best to include a copy of the immigration judge’s order dismissing your case.
  • If you do not have the order, you can look up your case on this immigration court website, and include a printout of that webpage in English.

I already have a work permit and I do not have a renewal application pending. When and how can I renew my work permit?

If you already have a work permit as an asylum seeker, you can renew your work permit after you submit your new asylum application to USCIS and USCIS sends you a receipt notice. If you apply to renew your work permit before it expires, your work permit is automatically extended.

1. Follow the general instructions for renewing your work permit. You can apply online or by mail. You should also include these documents listed below.

2. Include proof of your new asylum application with USCIS, such as your receipt notice.

3. Include proof of your previous asylum application.

4. Include proof that your immigration court case was dismissed. 

  • It is best to include a copy of the immigration judge’s order dismissing your case.
  • If you do not have the order, you can look up your case on this immigration court website, and include a printout of that webpage in English.

I already have a work permit and I already submitted a renewal application. Do I need to take any action?

Yes! If you have a work permit as an asylum seeker, and you have already submitted a work permit renewal application that USCIS has not processed yet, you should submit additional documents to USCIS as soon as possible.

You should include:

  • A cover letter explaining that you have a pending work permit renewal application and you are submitting additional evidence to show that you applied for asylum with USCIS after your immigration court case was dismissed.
  • Proof of your new asylum application with USCIS, proof that your immigration court case was dismissed, and proof of your previous asylum application. See details above.
  • A copy of your work permit renewal receipt notice.

If you submitted your renewal application by mail, you should mail these documents to USCIS. You can mail the package to the USCIS address in the bottom left corner of your work permit receipt notice.

If you submitted your renewal application online, you can find your work permit application (Form I-765) in your USCIS online account, go to the Documents tab, and upload these documents at “Add unsolicited evidence.”

Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.

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