Some asylum seekers can now apply for asylum online
Last updated on August 16, 2023
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently made it possible for more people to file the asylum application online!
However, not everyone who applies for asylum can use this online filing option. If you have a case in immigration court, you generally must still use the paper form. Other categories of asylum seekers also cannot yet apply online. Please keep reading for more details.
ASAP will continue to advocate to make applying for asylum more accessible, faster, and simpler for all! We will update you if the government opens online filing to more people.
Can I file my asylum application (Form I-589) online?
Maybe. The answer depends on whether you are applying for asylum with USCIS or in immigration court, as well as some other factors. If you are not sure if you have a case in immigration court, read more at this link.
1. If you are applying for asylum with USCIS, you may be able to complete and submit your asylum application online! However, there are exceptions:
- You cannot apply online if you were given a Notice to Appear. If immigration officials told you that you will have a case in immigration court but you do not yet appear in the immigration court system, you can mail a paper asylum application to USCIS.
- You cannot apply online if you had an immigration court case in the past and the judge dismissed (or closed) your case. If you decide to apply for asylum again with USCIS, you need to mail your asylum application. Learn more here.
- You cannot apply online if you are an unaccompanied child. You can mail a paper asylum application to USCIS instead.
- You cannot apply online if you are in one of the other situations described under the “Special Instructions” tab on this USCIS webpage. If you are in one of those situations, you can mail a paper asylum application to USCIS.
2. If you have a case in immigration court, you generally CANNOT file your asylum application online. You need to submit a paper asylum application to the immigration court instead. However, if you have an attorney, your attorney may be able to file online for you.
If you are still not sure if you can file your asylum application online with USCIS, you can use the USCIS Form I-589 Filing Instructions Tool. This tool can tell you if you are eligible to file an asylum application with USCIS and how to file your asylum application.
What are the steps to file for asylum online, if I am eligible?
1. Log in or create your USCIS online account.
- Go to this USCIS online account website. This website is only available in English.
- Next, log in to your USCIS account if you already have an account. If you do not have an account, click the blue sign up button to create an account. You can watch this USCIS video about how to create an online account.
2. Start the asylum application.
- If you are using a phone, click “Menu” in the top right corner, click “Account actions,” then click “File a form online.” If you are on a computer, click “My Account” in the top right corner, then click “File a form online.”
- Next, select “I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal” in the drop down menu.
- Click “Start form.”
3. Complete the asylum application.
- Most of the questions in the online asylum application are identical to the paper asylum application. You can watch this video for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to fill out the paper asylum application. Below are some useful things to know when completing the online asylum application:
- Pop-Up Window: When you are filling out the application online, you will likely see a pop-up window that looks similar to this:
If you would like to continue, choose “Allow” because the government only accepts asylum applications from people who are located in the United States. If you choose “Block”, the website will not allow you to proceed.
- When was your most recent entry into the United States?: Under this question, you will be asked for your “Status when last admitted.” You will have to choose from a long drop-down menu.
- If you entered the United States with parole or a specific type of visa (such as a B2 tourist visa or F1 student visa), choose that from the list.
- If you are an asylum seeker who did not enter the United States with parole or a visa, you can choose “999 – Alien awaiting decision of asylum.” You can then leave “Date this status expires” blank.
- If you are not sure what to choose, you can choose “ZN – Unknown.” You can then leave “Date this status expires” blank.
- Blank questions: If you do not answer a required question, you will get an alert when you reach the “Review and Submit” section. You can then go back and answer. If you do not know an answer, you can write “unknown” or leave it blank.
4. Upload evidence.
- You can upload evidence in the online form. There are size limits, so you may have to split large files into more than one file.
- We recommend submitting a copy of your passport and Form I-94, if you have them.
- If you are including your spouse or child in your asylum application, we recommend including:
- A copy of a document that proves your family relationship – for example, a copy of birth certificate for a child or a copy of a marriage certificate for a spouse.
- A copy of your family member’s passport and Form I-94, if they have them.
- If a document is not in English, you should also include an English translation with a certificate of translation.
- Some of the evidence categories may not apply to you. In that situation, you do not have to include evidence for that category, even if you get an alert that says you should provide evidence. For example, if you do not have a Cover Letter, you do not have to submit one. Or, if you do not have a spouse or children, you do not have to submit evidence for Family Identification.
- You do not have to submit all evidence at the same time that you are submitting your online asylum application. You can submit more evidence later, before or during your asylum interview. Read more about additional evidence here.
5. Submit your application and get your receipt notice.
- Carefully review your application and evidence before you submit.
- After you submit your asylum application, check your USCIS account frequently. You will not receive your receipt notice or other important notices by mail. Some people receive their receipt notice online in just 1 to 2 days.
- You should be able to see and download a copy of your asylum application from your online account.
6. Continue with your asylum case with USCIS.
- You can submit more evidence before or during your asylum interview.
- Read about the USCIS process.
- Read about applying for your first work permit.
Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.