NOTE: Applying for asylum is a complicated process and should be done with the support of a lawyer
Asylum is a form of protection that allows you to stay in the U.S. once here if you have been persecuted or fear persecution in Afghanistan because of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. It is recommended that you apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S. and certainly before the end of humanitarian parole. With the help of a lawyer, you will need to fill out and submit form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
Asylum will allow you to:
- Stay in the U.S. legally with protection from detention and deportation;
- Ask for asylum for your spouse and unmarried children under age 21;
- Work in the U.S. without applying for a work permit;
- Apply for travel documents, Green Card (after one year) and citizenship (five years after green card); and
- Be eligible for resettlement services for a period of time.
USCIS is expediting asylum applications filed by many Afghan applicants. The U.S. government has indicated they will grant an initial interview for an asylum application within 45 days of filing and, if there are no exceptional circumstances, will determine a status within 150 days of filing; however, this has been slowing dramatically in recent months given the increasing number of cases. Your legal representative can provide an updated timeline.
For more information on asylum, please see the following resources:
Asylum 101 video by American Bar (in Dari, Pashto, and English)
Asylum 101 Presentation by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (English)
Asylum 101 Presentation by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (Dari)
Guidance on preparing your asylum statement in Dari, Pashto and English