Who is Eligible to Apply?
Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, whether you are in the United States legally or illegally.
You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, but you may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year. These may include certain changes in the conditions in your country, certain changes in your own circumstances, and certain other events. You must apply for asylum within a reasonable time given those circumstances.
You will be barred from applying for asylum if you previously applied for asylum and were denied by the Immigration Judge or Board of Immigration Appeals unless you demonstrate that there are changed circumstances which materially affect your eligibility for asylum. You will also be barred if you could be removed to a safe third country pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement. The time frames below apply only if you will be scheduled for an interview at one of the eight asylum offices. Time frames vary for those who live far from an asylum office because asylum officers must travel to other offices in order to conduct the long-distance interviews.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that the initial interview on asylum applications filed on or after April 1, 1997, should take place within 45 days after the date the application is filed, and a decision should be made on the asylum application within 180 days after the date the application is filed, unless there are exceptional circumstances