If you flee your country because of fear of persecution and enter the United States, you have a right to apply for asylum. An asylum is a form of protection that allows aliens or non-citizens to remain in the United States instead of being deported.
When applying for asylum and for withholding of removal, you must file Form I-589. Completing the form can be a complex task keeping in mind that submitting with missing vital details can result in rejection of the entire package.
The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency overseeing the asylum application, looks for truthful and appropriate answers when reviewing your asylum claim.
To ensure you complete the form correctly, we provide line-by-line instructions on how to fill out Form I-589. We will also explain what Form I-589 is and the amount you will be charged when filing for your asylum application.
What Is Form I589?
Form I-589 is used to apply for asylum and for withholding removal from the U.S. The form is divided into seven sections where the applicant is expected to answer all the questions.
When completing the form, you should seek the services of an attorney(remember, you have to pay legal fees). Filing wrong information may subject you to be placed in the immigration court proceedings and subsequently be deported. You also risk delay for employment authorization and denial of asylum application in future.
Who Can Complete Form I589?
To complete Form I-589, asylum applicants must be inside the United States. You must also apply within one year of your entry into the U.S. However, you can still apply after being in the United States for more than one year if you prove the following ;
- Changed circumstances materially affected your asylum eligibility for asylum. For instance, changes in your home country’s social, economic or political conditions or changes in the U.S applicable laws caused you the delay.
- Extraordinary circumstances affected your filing timing. Some of the extraordinary circumstances may include illnesses and physical or mental disabilities.
- Despite the circumstances, you must file for asylum within a reasonable time. Go through the list of circumstances to know where you are eligible or not.
You might not be eligible if an immigration judge had previously denied your attempt to apply for asylum. However, you can apply if you prove changes in circumstances that resulted in the original application being rejected. However, you must provide proof of the original rejected application or a sworn statement from an accredited representative or your lawyer.
How Do I Fill Out Form I589?
When applying for asylum, you should ensure Form I-589 is complete and detailed. An incomplete form may cause you problems during the interview or before an immigration court.
An incomplete form may also cause you to miss the one-year deadline, forcing you to look for additional evidence to justify late filing. Before we get into a step-by-step guide on filling out Form I-589, you should read some general guidelines carefully.
- You must complete or type Form I-598 in English and black ink. Forms completed in any other colour or language are returned to the applicant.
- You must answer all the questions and provide specific information about yourself or your family member.
- Answer “not applicable ” or “none” if any question does not apply to you or you are unaware of the requested information.
- You must answer all the questions as correctly as possible. Your Form I-598 may be returned if you file it with missing information.
- If the space provided is not enough to answer the questions and support your claim, attach Form I-589 Supplement A or B. The forms are included in the application package. Alternatively, you can attach a sheet of paper and indicate the question number when answering.
- Ensure your written statements relate to your asylum claim and include dates and an outline of your experiences. Each sheet of paper should contain your A-number(if any), name, signature, and date. These details should appear exactly as in part A of the I-589 Form.
Part A-1: Information About Yourself
This part is self-explanatory and asks questions about you. Regardless, we will take each question at a time.
Question 1. Alien Registration Number
An A-number is a USCIS file number. It is an eight or nine-digit number starting with the letter A. If you have submitted previous applications, you likely have one. If not, USCIS will assign you one.
Question 2. Social Security Number
Provide your valid social security number.
Question 3. Online Account Number
If you have previously submitted an online application to the USCIS, provide a USCIS online account number. If you do not have one type, “none”.
Questions 4-7. Your Names
Provide your real and legal first, middle, and last names. You should also include any aliases or maiden names, if any.
Question 8. Residential Address
Provide the address where you physically live in the U.S by stating the state, city, street number and name, zip code, and phone number.
Question 9. Mailing Address
Indicate ”same as above” if your mailing address is the same as in question 8. If you have another person collecting your mail at your mailing address, enter their name in the “in care of” field.
Question 10. Gender
If your asylum claim involves gender identity issues, write (“*”) in the field and say refer to supplement. Ensure you adequately explain in your supplementary statement. If not, check the appropriate box.
Question 11. Marital Status
Check the appropriate box. Remember you must provide your legal marital status. For instance, do not tick married because of your current living condition. You should provide the information only if you are legally married.
Question 12. Date of Birth
Enter your birth date in “dd/mm/yy” format.
Question 13. City and Country of Birth
Use the current name of the country and not historical or provincial.
Question 14. Present Nationality (Citizenship)
Enter your current country of citizenship or nationality. If you hold dual citizenship, include both countries.
Question 15. Nationality at Birth
Provide your country of birth. Ensure you explain and provide evidence of why you are unwilling to return to your birth country.
Question 16. Race, Ethnic, or Tribal Group
Provide the name of your race, ethnicity, or tribe. Make sure the name is correct, primarily if your asylum application is based on either of the groups.
Question 17. Religion
Do not leave the religion box empty. If you do not have a religious affiliation, put “none”. The name of the denomination or sect should match the evidence you provide
Question 18. Immigration Court Proceedings
Suppose you have ever been arrested by immigration authorities or have appeared before an immigration judge. In that case, you should file an I-589 Form with the immigration court. The asylum officer has no jurisdiction over the matter.
Question 19. Entry Into the U.S
you should answer this section with utmost sincerity even if you have overstayed your visa or entered the United States without inspection. If your reason for the immigration violations was to escape prosecution, your asylum case might not be affected. However, it is advisable to consult a lawyer.
If you entered the country with inspection, enter the date, space, and status as they appear on Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. Write “none” on space 19. B if you did not receive Form I-94.
Question 20-22. Passport Details
Provide truthful details when answering. If your entry to the United States was with a fake passport, you must indicate the country in which your document was issued. Attach the front and back pages of the passport plus every interior page to your Form I-589.
Enter your recent passport number even if it’s not active. If your entry to the U.S with a passport, you typically do not have a travel document. So write “none ” in the appropriate space.
Questions 23-25. Native Language
Provide the native language, one you feel comfortable with. If you have more than two native languages, choose the one you feel satisfied with. If you are not fluent in English, pick the “no” box. You have a right to an interpreter during your asylum interview if you are not fluent or comfortable in English.
Part A. II: Information About Your Spouse and Children
If you are unmarried, check the appropriate box and proceed to question 2. If you are married, you just answer questions 1-24. You must answer all questions in this section whether your spouse is part of the application or not.
Question 24 is vital if your spouse lives in the U.S. It enquires if your spouse wants to be included in the application. If you include them, they will automatically be granted asylum if you are successful. However, your spouse can be included in the removal proceedings and deported together with you if your asylum case is pushed to the immigration court.
To avoid taking the risk, check “no” to question 24. Alternatively, file Form I-730 for your spouse after your asylum case is approved.
If you do not have children, check the “I do not have children” box and proceed. If you have any, list all of them regardless of their age, marital status, or location. You should also answer questions 1-21 for each child (do not include those who are deceased). Attach Supplement A, Form I-589 if you have more than four children and provide relevant information. If you do not want to include them in your application, file Form I-730 as with the case with your spouse.
Note: children married and above 21years must file their Form I-589. If your asylum application includes family members, you must provide evidence of your family relationship for each member and one copy of your completed asylum application.
For instance, you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate when including your spouse and copies of birth certificates when including your children.
Part A. III, Your Background Information
Question 1: Last Address
You must enter your last address before entering the United States. If the address you stated is not for the country from which you fear persecution, you must provide the last address of the country in which you are fearful of persecution.
Question 2, 3, and 4: Your Residence for the Past Five Years, Education, and Employment
Starting with the most current address, state the addresses you resided in for the past five years. List the names and addresses of schools you have attended in the previous five years and employment for the previous five years, starting with the current.
Question 5. Parents and Siblings
Provide information about your parents, brothers, and sisters. If any of your family members are deceased, mark the appropriate box.
Part B. Information About Your Application
In this section, you are to answer questions related to asylum eligibility. Try to recall events, locations, dates, and names of past persecutions as much as possible. Every detail you give at this point makes your asylum application credible and increases the chances of approval.
Question 1. Why Are You Seeking Asylum?
Inquires about your justification for seeking asylum. You must check at least one of the first five boxes to be eligible. However, you can apply for more than one ground if the categories pertain to your case.
Check “torture convention” if you’re also applying for withholding of removal under the convention against torture. Marking the box also helps applicants preserve their cat eligibility if their cases are referred to immigration court.
If your application is based on transgender identity, HIV status, or sexual orientation, you should check “membership in a particular social group”.
Question 1.a. Have You, Your Family, Close Friends, or Colleagues Ever Experienced Harm, Mistreatment, or Threats in the Past?
The question seeks answers about your past persecutions. You must state any harm, mistreatment, or threat that you, your family member, close friend, or a colleague have experienced.
Giving examples of harm that those close to you suffered helps you justify your fear of future prosecutions. Remember that harm, mistreatment, and threats should be the basis for which you are applying for asylum.
You can also explain how the government willingly refused to offer you protection from harm, mistreatment, or threat. Ensure you provide affidavits from friends, family members, or colleagues to support your claims.
If the harm, mistreatment, or threat to you, your family members, friends, and colleagues do qualify for persecution, include the incidences in your application to justify why you are afraid of returning to the country.
Be specific and straight to the point when answering this section. The officer in charge of your asylum case may keep tabs on your answers during the interview.
Question 1.B. Do You Fear Harm or Mistreatment if You Return to Your Home Country?
The question asks whether you are fearful of future persecutions upon returning to your home country. You must answer “yes ” to qualify for asylum. Be as detailed as possible when explaining the type of harm you fear and state whom you believe would subject you to harm, mistreatment, or threat.
If you have not gone through any past persecution, explain keenly how you became fearful of forced marriage, police harassment, or being a member of the LGBTQ community. Again, state how you became aware of other persecutions.
For instance, you could state that sexual harassment happened to a stranger and saw the reports on television. Be specific about how the incident occurred and use the writing space appropriately.
Question 2. Have You or Your Family Members Ever Been Accused, Charged, Arrested, Detained, Interrogated, Convicted, Sentenced or Imprisoned in Any Country Other Than the United States?
Ensure you list down events that occurred during the incidence despite providing the same answers in previous questions. It is another perfect chance to explain how you were falsely accused, imprisoned, taken to court, interrogated, or detained concerning your bases for asylum.
Include any information about your interaction with the police or military you had not included in previous questions. For instance, if the police detained you because of same-sex sexual conduct between two consenting individuals, or gender identity, such cases qualify for persecution. However, talk to your attorney before submitting such an asylum application.
Question 3. A. Have You or Your Family Members Ever Belonged to or Been Associated With Any Organizations or Groups in Your Home Country?
This part is crucial if your bases for persecution result from your political affiliation or your membership in groups and organizations. However, this question is tricky since you could be a member of a group that has been involved in terrorism or persecuted others, actions which are bars to the asylum. You should consult your attorney before filing for asylum in such a case.
It is also a chance to show how being a member of an organization or political party subjected you to persecution. However, you must provide evidence of association with the organization or political parties in your country of origin, such as membership cards, letters, or news stories.
If you are not a member of any group or organization but fear persecution because of your family’s affiliation, provide as much information when answering the question. Show how your family’s involvement in the group or organization installs fear of persecution in you.
Question 3.B. Do You or Your Family Members Continue to Participate in Any Way in These Organizations or Groups?
Check “yes” if you or your family member still involve themselves in these groups. Provide a detailed explanation and evidence of continued membership and involvement. The answer to this question may strengthen your case for asylum if you demonstrate how dedicated you are to the group and how you cannot simply quit just to avoid persecution.
Question 4. Are You Afraid of Being Subjected to Torture in Your Home Country or Any Other Country to Which You May Be Returned?
If you do not believe that you could be tortured if you return to your home country, do not answer “yes” to this question. However, if your reasons for applying for relief are under the convention against torture, we highly recommend you answer “yes” and provide convincing evidence.
For instance, if you fear persecution in the hands of your government, either directly or indirectly, you should clearly state that you fear physical harm, pain, or torture in your home country.
Part C. Additional Information About Your Application
If you answer “no” to all of the questions in this category, there may not be any issue that may affect your asylum eligibility. However, if you answer “yes” to one of the questions, you should provide a detailed explanation.
Question 1: Have You, Your Spouse, Your Child(Ren), Your Parents, or Your Siblings Ever Applied to the United States Government for Refugee Status, Asylum, or Withholding of Removal?
The part enquires about previous requests for asylum or withholding of removal you may have made. If you have never filed for asylum, check “no” in the appropriate box. If you tick “yes”, your answer may hurt your application depending on the previous outcome for asylum you or your family member have made.
You can reapply for asylum if there is a change in the circumstances that you believe can affect your eligibility or you have been part of an application by your parent but now has to file for another asylum because you are no longer in the category of unmarried and child under 21 years.
If you and your family member underwent the same situation and were successful in applying, you could apply since you have a strong case. However, if you had applied and were denied on the bases of fraud, reapplying may be futile.
If you still have a pending application, you should explain the previous application’s circumstances and its current situation.
Question 2. A.-2. B: After Leaving the Country From Which You Are Claiming Asylum, Did You or Your Spouse or Child(Ren), Who Are Now in the United States, Travel Through or Reside in Any Other Country Before Entering the United States?
The question enquires about your previous foreign residences and travels and wants to determine whether you had sort asylum in another country. If you travelled through a country that grants asylum to sexually harassed victims before entering the United States, the asylum office would want to know why you opted not to seek asylum in that country.
In that case, you should justify your action by proving that the third country(apart from the United States and your home country) reported many cases of sexual harassment.
If you had received immigration benefits in the third country, explain the length of your stay and why you left. Remember, your asylum application may be denied if you had a perfect opportunity to safely relocate to a third country or were offered a permanent residence and refused the offer.
Question 3. Have You, Your Spouse, or Child(Ren) Ever Ordered, Incited, Assisted, or Otherwise Participated in Causing Harm or Suffering to Any Person Because of His or Her Race, Religion, Nationality, or Membership in a Particular Social Group or Belief in a Particular Political Opinion?
The question focuses on mandatory bars to asylum and can determine your eligibility for asylum. If you answer “yes”, you admit to having been involved in persecuting others and must provide valid reasons why you participated in the act.
If you were involved in forced military or forcefully recruited into a guerilla service, you should explain in detail and provide evidence, such as reports from human rights groups.
Question 4. After You Left the Country Where You Were Harmed or Fear Harm, Did You Return to That Country?
This question requires every trip you made back to your home country after leaving it. You must account for each trip and give details such as the reason for the travel, the date, the duration you stayed there. You must convenience the asylum officers by stating the circumstances that forced you to rerun to your home country since they may determine you did not fear persecution.
Question 5. Are You Filing the Application More Than 1 Year After Your Last Arrival in the United States?
If you answer “yes” to this question, you must explain why you did not file your application for asylum within one year of the filing deadline or 12 months after the expiration of your legal status. Missing the deadline is the perfect bases for denying you asylum unless you prove beyond doubt the extraordinary circumstances or changed circumstances that led to the delay.
For instance, you could state that you fear persecution after a new government takes over in your home country. However, you might need the services of an attorney to prove the circumstances and help you gather additional evidence.
Question 6. Have You or Any Member of Your Family Included in the Application Ever Committed Any Crime And/or Been Arrested, Charged, Convicted and Sentenced for Any Crimes in the United States?
Ensure you answer “yes” to the question if you or your family member in the application have ever been arrested, charged and convicted after being involved in a crime in the U.S despite the case being dismissed and sealed. If you or your family member were convicted of a serious crime, you might not be eligible for asylum.
Part D. Your Signature
You should sign and date your Form I-589 and attach one photograph. You must also provide your name in your native alphabet. If your parent, spouse, or child helped you complete Form I-589, check “yes” you must include their names in the form. If a lawyer or certified representative filled out Form I-589, check “yes” in answer to the next question.
You should also check “yes” when answering the question of whether the State provided you with a list of low-cost attorneys. You risk your application being retired for failing to answer the question.
You must read the warning details above the signature line carefully. The certification states the penalties for a false statement of material fact. If you do not comply and provide truthful information, your asylum application and withholding claims may not be granted, and you may be subject to removal.
Part E: Declaration of the Person Preparing Form if Other Than Applicant, Spouse, Parent, or Child
This section should be completed and signed by an accredited representative, nonprofit organization staff, an attorney, or another individual who helped you prepare Form I-589.
Part F. To Be Completed at the Interview or Hearing
You should not complete or sign this section if you are filing for an affirmative asylum and are not in removal proceedings. You will be required to do so during the interview at the nearest USCIS office.
Part G. To Be Completed at the Removal Hearing, if Applicable
Do not complete this section. If you are filing a defensive asylum or are placed in removal proceedings, you will fill this section before an immigration judge.
How Much Does Form I 589 Cost?
Asylum applicants must pay a filing fee of $50 when submitting Form I-589(see 8 CFR 106.3 to determine if you qualify for a fee waiver). Note: there is no fee if you are filing under these two cases;
- If you file the form with the immigration court because you are in a removal proceeding
- If you file the form with USCIS, you are a UAC in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
The filing fee is not refundable despite the actions of the immigration court or the USCIS regarding your asylum application. You should not mail the filing fee. Instead, you should make the payment through a check or money order drawn from a financial institution located in the U.S. Also, the fee must be submitted in the exact amount and paid in U.S currency.
The check or money order must also be paid to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security(do not use initials when spelling out). If you send USCIS a check, they will convert it into an electronic funds transfer. In other words, they will copy your check and debit your account electronically using your account information.
Where to Go For More Information on Form I-589
To gather more information about Form I-589, visit the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services website. USCIS is a federal agency responsible for overseeing legal migration to the U.S.
You can check your asylum application status by visiting USCIS online case status portal and following the prompts. You can also contact USCIS for any information you may need regarding your application, especially when dealing with sensitive or confidential information.
To understand the legal aspects governing the asylum application, read the immigration and nationality act section 208.