USCIS Asylum Processing Time Explained

Asylum, by definition, is an inviolable place of refuge and protection giving shelter for those who qualify as one. An asylum seeker often seeks asylum secondary to fear of persecution in their home country. This persecution may have been secondary to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and engagements in a social group. Ask your asylum attorney for more information.

It is no new topic to the Immigration industry that asylum applicants have been constantly increasing per year (and some denied over the past year under Trump’s administration). With this in mind, it is already obvious that the processing time for application can be dragged onto a long amount of time. To walk you through the processing time for an asylum application in the United States, here are some of the few explanations you might want to be aware of.

The Affirmative Asylum Processing

When it comes to filing for asylum to the USCIS, the category of application is termed as affirmative. In the United States, there are two divisions of asylum processing: affirmative and defensive. However, the affirmative processing is the one that files directly to the United States Civil and Immigration Services (USCIS) while the defensive process requires to file an application as a defense against deportation through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

An affirmative asylum process is the application wherein the applicant is already within the grounds of the U.S. and must file a Form I-589 within a year after latest arrival. This is provided that the applicant also has legal documentations upon permission to enter the country.

How Long Does it Take?

Asylum processing can take about 3 – 6 months post application and usually depends on the case of the applicant. Some worst-case scenarios are longer processing time with a minimum of two and maximum of several unpredictable years.

Processing Time Explained

According to Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer at the Hacking Law Practice, Inc., one of the main reasons why the processing time per application takes months to years is due to the uncountable pending cases. Not only does the asylum seeker rate in the United States increase per year, but also the fact that every case and applicant need to be checked for eligibility. This creates a domino effect of backlogs when it comes to the applicant rate received per year.

It is also stated that most of asylum applicants are predominantly from Muslim countries and application processing time has been way far behind. This is secondary to inability to contain credible public records about the applicant which hinders asylum officials from undergoing an efficient background check. This slows down the processing duration since it is essential to know the motives of the seeker as to seeking asylum and to further confirm whether the intention is a threat to the United States or not.

Although there are other alternatives to speed up the processing time of one’s application, these methods usually are not that efficient either. However, it would not hurt to send a letter of follow-up to the Appointment Service Centers or to the USCIS or simply just contact the asylum office directly.

For some who had delays for three, four or five years opted to file a lawsuit, given that it is reasonable to bring it to court. According to Hacking, these are often successful, as per experience, and often granted asylum after additional interviews from the officials.


The asylum processing time in the United States really does require a lot of patience and determination – especially since the benefits of an asylee can really be a breath of relief for those who seek it. Overall, it is best to file right away with a legal representative besides you to assist you every step of the way.