I’ve suddenly realized that when I wrote that I was favorably predisposed towards accepting refugees as long as the asylum-seekers were detained while their applications were reviewed, some of those who support our accepting more refugees must have thought I was daft. I was referring, of course, to affirmative asylum. Here’s how the U. S. Civilization and Naturalization Services characterizes “affirmative asylum”:
To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.
You must apply for asylum within one year of the date of their last arrival in the United States, unless you can show:
Changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing
You filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.
You may apply for affirmative asylum by submitting Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to USCIS. See Form I 589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal for instructions on how to file for asylum,.
If your case is not approved and you do not have a legal immigration status, we will issue a Form I-862, Notice to Appear, and forward (or refer) your case to an Immigration Judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The Immigration Judge conducts a ‘de novo’ hearing of the case. This means that the judge conducts a new hearing and issues a decision that is independent of the decision made by USCIS. If we do not have jurisdiction over your case, the Asylum Office will issue an I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge, for an asylum-only hearing. See ‘Defensive Asylum Processing With EOIR’ below if this situation applies to you.
Affirmative asylum applicants are rarely detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You may live in the United States while your application is pending before USCIS. If you are found ineligible, you can remain in the United States while your application is pending with the Immigration Judge. Most asylum applicants are not authorized to work.
The emphasis is mine. In other words, the process for seeking affirmative asylum goes like this:
- You arrive in the United States, by any means, legal or illegal.
- You apply for asylum.
- You’re released on your own recognizance.
- A year and a half later, you receive a determination.
Doesn’t sound quite as daft when you know that’s what I’m talking about, does it?
How common is affirmative asylum? About 3/5s of those who’ve been granted asylum applied that way. Many immigration attorneys advise people to seek asylum that way.