• Filling Out Form I-589 Application for Asylum
  • August 25, 2016 | Author: Alexander Joseph Segal
  • Law Firm: The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC - New York Office
  • Introduction

    In order to file for asylum and/or withholding of removal, an applicant must file the Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. There are two situations in which a person may file the Form I-589:

    I. Affirmative Asylum Application - 
    The applicant is applying for asylum outside of removal proceedings.

    II. Defensive Asylum Application - 
    The applicant is filing for asylum as a defense during removal during proceedings. The application will also be considered for statutory withholding of removal and for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (either if the applicant requests such consideration or if the evidence submitted suggests that relief under the Convention Against Torture may be appropriate). The statutory bars to applying for asylum do not prevent a person from filing the Form I-589 in removal proceedings because the application can be considered for withholding of removal.

    If a person believes that he or she may be eligible for asylum and/or withholding of removal, it is crucial to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. In addition to the high stakes faced by a person who fears violence, persecution, or torture if removed to his or her home country, the Form I-589 application is complicated, and the applicant will need to submit compelling evidence to support his or her claims for immigration relief. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to determine if the person has a bona fide case for relief (there are penalties for frivolous asylum applications) and, if so, to guide the applicant through the asylum/withholding application process if he or she does.

    Filing a Form I-589

    If the applicant is making an affirmative asylum application, he or she must file the Form I-589 with the appropriate USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over his or her place of residence. If the applicant is filing the Form I-589 while in removal proceedings, he or she must file with the Immigration Court having jurisdiction over the case.

    There is currently no filing fee for the Form I-589. Biometrics services may be required at no cost.

    What is on the Form I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding?

    The Form I-589 asylum/withholding application is broken into several Parts. Before continuing, it is important to note that the Form I-589 is filled out under penalty of perjury. An applicant must fill out the Form I-589 with the understanding that he or she may face serious consequences if the information provided is not truthful.

    The application will ask for information about the background of the applicant and his or her spouse or children (Part A); the basis on which relief is being sought along with evidence (Part B); additional information about the history of the applicant and his or her family members in their home country; their U.S. criminal history (Part C); and certification, under penalty of perjury, that all of the information provided is truthful (Part D; and Parts F/G depending on whether the application was affirmative or defensive). Part E is for information about the preparer of the form, if it was not the applicant or his or her family member. Supplement A addresses additional information about the applicants’ children. Supplement B concerns additional information pertaining to the applicant’s application for asylum. The applicant is required to submit reasonably available corroborative evidence for his or her claims for relief. If he or she is unable to procure such evidence at the time of preparing the application, the Supplement B should be used to explain the reasons.

    The Form I-589 instructions go into detail about the requirements for submitting a complete Form I-589 asylum application. It is important to follow these directions carefully, because the USCIS will return any incomplete applications. It is important to note that for many documents, including the Form I-589 itself, the instructions require that the applicant submit a certain number of copies. Additional documentation will be required if the applicant has extensive supplementary materials with his or her application or if he or she is including relatives in the application.

    If the application is incomplete, USCIS will return it within 30 days. An application will be incomplete if any questions on the Form I-589 are left blank; if it is unsigned; if it is submitted without the required photograph; if it is sent with insufficient copies of supporting materials; or if the applicant specifies that someone besides the applicant or an immediate family member prepared the form, but the preparer failed to complete Part E.


    This article provides a brief overview of what one may expect to find on the Form I-589. As I noted at the beginning of the article, it is important to talk to an experienced immigration attorney before filing for asylum, and to work with an experienced immigration attorney throughout the asylum application process.