Individuals who are considering applying for asylum in the US should consult an attorney to determine their eligibility. Individuals who qualify for asylum must complete and submit a completed application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

To apply for asylum in the United States, you must complete and submit form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. The form is also used to apply for protection under the Convention Against Torture. To be able to file for asylum, you must be physically present in the United States. This means that you can only submit the form/application once you have entered the US. Individuals who apply for asylum can also include their spouse and unmarried children und the age of 21 years old on their application as dependents. 

Once you have entered and are physically present in the US, you must submit your I-589 form and application for asylum within one year of your arrival or entry date to the US. This requirement is known as the “one-year bar.” If you file for asylum after one year, you must establish and explain recent, changed circumstances that prompted the later application. OR, you must establish/explain that there were extraordinary circumstances that made an earlier application unfeasible.

Filling out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

The following is a step-by-step and page-by-page guide on how to fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. The application has a total of 12 pages. While every page does not necessarily apply to every applicant, it is important to review every page and every question on the entire form to ensure that nothing is missed. It is also important to note that additional pages can be added to the form if there is more information than any particular section allows. This is done by entering all additional data on Page 12 and copying the page and adding it to the application if further room is required. 

Page 1

On Page 1, most individuals should mark the box that says “Check this box if you also want to apply for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture, ” here:

For most people, the persecution they faced, or will face, includes torture. As such, most applicants may qualify for withholding of removal based on the Convention Against Torture and should check this box. 

Part AI – Information About You

In this section include any information you may have for questions 1 through 3. If you do not have such information, you can leave these questions black or write None in each box.

For questions 4 through 6, write your name as it functions on your official documents, such as your passport or visa. For question 7, make sure to include any and all variations of your existing name that you have ever used. You must also disclose any completely different names you may be known by as well as maiden names or changed first/last names.

Question 8 requires your current physical address. Question 9 should only be filled out if you would like your mail or correspondence to go do a different address than your current physical address. Questions 10-18 are personal details to include.

On Question 19a include the day you last left your country. Question 19b requires your current I-94 number. The I-94 is your DHS arrival/departure record you received when you arrived in the US. If you do not have your I-94, you can get your record by going to the DHS website here.

and click on the Get Most Recent I-94 tab, enter your information and it will provide you with your record that will include your I-94 number. Use the expiration date listed on the I-94 and enter it Date Status Expires question. On the site you can also request your travel record on the View Travel History tab. This will include a list of all your entries into the US. This can be used to answer 19c. Note that your travel record may not be complete. If there are any other entries into the US that are not listed on the travel, make sure to include them. If you have more entries than space allows, include the additional entries on Page. 12. 

Questions 20-22 are related to your passport or travel document. Most people have a passport and they should answer these questions with their passport information. Applicants will have either a passport or a travel document, but not both.

For questions 23-25 make sure to include all languages you speak and indicate if you are fluent in English. If you are not comfortable communicating in English, especially regarding your case, then please indicate that you are not fluent in English. Do not make any marks in the sections below question 25 on Page 1.

Page 2

Part A.II Information About Your Spouse and Children

This section/page is where you will include all information about your spouse and children. If you are not currently officially or legally married, make sure to check the box at the top of the page here and then skip to the next section:

If you are married, then this box should not be checked. All information related to your spouse must be included in questions 1-24. Indicate if spouse is in the US currently on question 15. On questions 16-17 make sure to indicate where and when your spouse last came into the US, even if they are not currently here with you. If some of these questions do not apply to your spouse at this time, leave the question blank or write N/A (not applicable) into the boxes. Question 23 requires you to list the date of entry for any previous entry to the US that your spouse may have had. Don’t forget you must indicate on question 24 if you want USCIS to consider your spouse on your application. If you mark No for this question and you are granted asylum, your spouse will not receive asylum in the US. 

Next, make sure to indicate if you have children. If you do not have children mark the section and go to page 4. If you do have children, indicate how many children you have here:

The next set of questions relate to each of your children. Include the requested information for each child even if the child is not with you in the US, or if they are already a US citizen, or if you are not including a child on your application. If there are any questions that do not apply to your child then leave the questions blank or write N/A (not applicable) into the boxes.

Page 3

Part A.II. Information About Your Spouse and Children (Continued)

Page 3 includes the same 1-21 questions in sets allowing you to answer the same set of questions for each child you have. There is enough room to include a total of 4 children over Pages 2 and 3. If you have less than four children, leave the additional sets of questions blank. If you have more than four children use Page 11 to include the information for each additional child.

Page 4

Part A.III. Information About Your Background

Question 1 asks you to write down your last address outside of the US. If that last address was not your home country then also include your last address in your home country. Make sure to write an official and complete address for each location. Also make sure that you include the dates you lived at this location. You need to include the month and year when you began living at the location and the month and year when you stopped living at the address. 

Question 2 ask you to list your complete addresses where you lived for the last five years. It is very important to start with your current address and then write your previous addresses over the last five years. Once again make sure that you include the month and year when you began living at the location and the month and year when you stopped living at the address.

Question 3 asks for information about all schools you attended. Please note that this means all schools you attended going all the way back to kindergarten or even pre-school if you that is when you started your education. Each school must have a full and specific address and you must include the month and year you started at each school and the month and year you ended at each school. 

Question 4 is information about all the places you have officially worked. Start with your most recent workplace and provide a full name and complete address for the company as well as the month and year you started at each workplace and the month and year you ended at each location.

Question 5 requires basic information for your parents and siblings. Make sure that you include their location of birth as well indicating where they are currently located.

Page 5

Part B. Information About Your Application

This questions and expected responses in this section are long form and require full sentence explanations. While you must answer the questions in this section you do not have to try and provide all details in these small boxes. It is recommended that an applicant provide a separate personal statement with their application that explains all the details of their past or future persecution. This detailed personal statement should be a complete explanation of their asylum case and include an explanation of everything that has occurred and all the threats and incidents an applicant may have suffered and/or will suffer. 

Question 1 asks you to choose the boxes that apply to your specific case. The basis of every asylum claim must be persecution due to a person’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion and/or their membership in a particular group. You must choose one or more reasons that you have been persecuted, or will be persecuted, in your home country. You can choose more than one box as many asylum claims are due to persecution for more than one reason. Applicants are also frequently part of a particular social group and that is another reason for their targeting. In this case the Membership in a particular social group box would also be checked. Additionally, as most cases include fear of torture, the Torture Convention box should also be marked in most cases. A sample of this section might be as follows:

The specific grounds of any particular asylum case can be difficult to clearly formulate. Applicants should consult an attorney to discuss their case. An attorney can assist and provide a clear explanation of the different categories that a particular asylum claim may fall into.

For Question 1A, a short sentence or two providing a brief explanation is sufficient for this section, especially if you include a recommended, separate personal statement that goes into more specific detail regarding your asylum claim and experience. In this instance you should also include a sentence at the end of this section indicating that details can be found in the personal. Below is an example of how this section might look:

Answer question 1B in a similar fashion with a brief description and then again note that full details are available in your personal statement.

Page 6

Part B. Information About Your Application (Continued)

Question 2 asks if you or any family members have faced any legal proceedings or arrests in any other country other than the US. You must make note of any family members and the incident here. You do not have to provide significant detail but you must make a general statement at least mentioning in a sentence what each family member may have faced.

Question 3A must similarly include a mention of any and all organizations that you or family members belonged to and the level of participation. Anything that is a group of any kind should be disclosed here even for extended family members. It is fine if you do not know about all extended family members, but any that you do know about must be disclosed. Question 3B simply asks if you or your family members are still part of these groups.

Question 4 asks about torture you may be afraid of in your home country. As most persecution cases inherently include serious fear of serious harm, most applicants fear associated torture. Torture can come in a variety of forms including both physical and psychological torture and is generally inflicted directly by persecutors. Most applicants indicate in a just a few sentences the torture they are afraid of and then again note that their personal statement has additional information. An example may look like this:

Page 7 

Part C. Additional Information About Your Application

Question 1 in this section must indicate if any of your siblings, parents, your children, or your spouse have previously filed for asylum. You must also indicate what the status of the application is currently. Even if a family member applied in the past and withdrew the application, you must still disclose this information. You don’t have to go into details of their case, but you must indicate if they have ever applied. You must also note if you were part of their application at any time. If you have been denied asylum in the past, you must indicate here the changed circumstances in your country, or significant changes in your personal situation, upon which you are submitting your current application.

Questions 2A and 2B are to be answered in the same box. For question 2A make sure to include any countries that you visited, lived in, or even traveled through after you left your home country, but before you came to the US the last time you entered. This would also include any locations that you had a flight layover in.

For question 2B you must indicate if any of your siblings, parents, your children, or your spouse have ever applied for, or received some official status, in any other country other than your home country and the US. If so, you must indicate their name, their relationship to you along with how long they were in that country and what type of status they had and/or currently have there. Make sure to indicate whether this family member can lawfully return and reside there. A sample response to these two questions may look like this:

For question 3 please disclose any involvement you may have had in any activity as requested. This is an important question and must be answered honestly. If there are any concerns regarding your activity and its impact on your asylum case, it is best to consult an attorney and discuss such issues.

Page 8

Part C. Additional Information About Your Application (Continued)

To answer question 4, you must explain any trips you may have made back to your home country after your persecution was already apparent and ongoing. You must include the date and purpose and duration of any such trips. Sometimes individuals are forced to return to their home country for emergency purposes and/or other reasons beyond their control despite their fear of persecution. You must disclose such trips and explain the reason you were forced to return despite your fears or risks to you.

Question 5 relates to the previously noted one year bar rule that applies to asylum applications. This requirement says that all people who enter the US must submit their asylum application within one year of their arrival or entry date to the US. If your asylum application is after on year, question 5 is where you establish and explain recent, changed circumstances and/or extraordinary personal circumstances that prompted the later application or made an earlier application unfeasible. A short response here is acceptable and you can refer back to your personal statement for additional information, where you should explain the situation. It is also important to keep in mind that you may be asked for further details about why you waited beyond one year to apply for asylum during your interview. You should be prepared to explain the situation in your own words at that time. An example of a response to this question might be as follows:

Question 6 requires you to disclose any crimes or arrests and detentions that anyone in your family may have committed or experienced in any country other than the US. You must disclose such crimes and arrests for any family members, including extended family, that you know of. You must disclose incidents even if they were unjust, unfair and/or part of the persecution you are reporting as part of your case. 

Page 9

Part D. Your Signature

At the top right of page 9 you will need to attach one passport size photo of yourself. It is best to have official passport specific pictures taken for the application. 

In the boxes below make sure to print your name clearly and legibly. And also make sure to write your name in your native alphabet. If your native alphabet has roman characters just like English, simply write your name again in this box. Under the boxes write the full name(s) of your spouse, parent(s) or child(ren) if they assisted you directly with filling out your application. If an attorney completed the application for you make sure you mark Yes to the box next to the question that asks Did someone other than your spouse, parent, or child(ren) prepare this application? For the final question in this section, indicate if you were ever provided a list of low cost or no cost attorneys who could assist you with your asylum case. Finally, don’t forget to sign and date your application. An example of a completed section here might look like this:

Page 9

Part E – Declaration of Person Preparing Form, if Other Than Applicant, Spouse, Parent, or Child

This section needs to be completed by the person who prepared your I-589 application, if that person is NOT the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, parent, or child. If an attorney prepared the application for you, they will complete this section. Sometimes an applicant will have help from a non-profit group and designated individual who works on their application. If so, they must complete this section if they prepared the form for you. 

Page 10

This page should be left blank although it needs to be included in the application. Do not leave this page out.

Page 11

Use this page to include information for any additional child you may have that did not fit on pages 2-3. If you do not have additional children, leave the content blank, but make sure to include your name, date, signature, and A# if you have one at the very top of this page.

Page 12

This page is to be used to add any additional information or data to questions or sections in the application where the content does not fit. This page can be copied and completed as necessary. Whether or not this page(s) are used, you must make sure to include your name, date, signature, and A# if you have one at the very top of this page.