Know Your Rights: Before, During, and After Your LGBTQ Asylum Application

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Before, During, and After Your LGBTQ Asylum Application


Note: This information is currently available in the following languages: Arabic | English | Korean | Spanish


Your Rights Before Filing

How long do I have to file my application?

You have one year from the date of your last entry into the United States to file your asylum application (unless you qualify for an exception to the rule).

Can I file for asylum even if I don’t have legal status in the U.S.?

You can file for LGBTQ asylum even if you currently have no legal status in the U.S. However, it is crucial that you speak with an attorney before filing or, better yet, that you have an attorney file your application on your behalf. Once United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has your application, they will be alerted to your presence in the United States.

What if I am detained or placed into removal proceedings before I file my application?

It is very important that you find and speak with an attorney if you are detained. Your attorney will be able to figure out the best plan of action in your unique case. They may also be able to file a defensive asylum application on your behalf if you are placed into removal proceedings (deportation).

What should I do if ICE comes to my home?

Remain calm and do not open the doors. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot enter your home without permission unless they have a signed warrant from the court. Do not speak to ICE officers except to say that you are exercising your right to remain silent. Anything you say to ICE officers can be used against you later on in your immigration court case. Sign nothing- Do not sign ANY documents without an attorney present.


Your Rights After Filing: Awaiting Your Decision

Can I legally work in the United States once I have filed my asylum application?

If your asylum application has been pending with no decision made for 150 days or more, you can apply for a work authorization card and a restricted social security card.

Can I get a driver’s license or other state identification?

Some states allow asylum applicants who have a pending application to obtain a state identification or driver’s license. See the appropriate City Guide on AsylumConnect’s website for more information on your particular city.

Can I travel out of the United States while my application is pending?

Immigration attorneys generally advise that you do not travel out of the country while your asylum application is pending, even if you are present in the U.S. on lawful parole. If there is an emergency and you need to travel outside of the U.S. while your asylum application is pending, you should submit an application for a permit to re-enter the country with USCIS well before your intended departure date and wait for their decision. This is called “Advance Parole”. Note that even with this permission, there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter the United States once you leave. It is absolutely necessary that you do not travel to the country from which you are claiming asylum (i.e. your country of citizenship). If you do, USCIS will likely deem your asylum application abandoned or forfeited as you can no longer claim that you fear persecution in that country. Worse, they may deem your application to be fraudulent.

Can I move residences while my application is pending?

Yes. However, you must inform USCIS of your new address within 10 days of moving.

I was arrested after filing my application. Will this change my asylum application?

Maybe. It will depend on what you were arrested for and whether you were convicted of a crime. You should contact an attorney who understands the relationship between criminal and immigration law.

What should I do if ICE (U.S. immigration and Customs enforcement) comes to my home?

As stated above, you should not let them into your home unless they have a warrant issued by the court. You do not need to answer any of their questions and you should not sign any documentation without an attorney present. If you have already filed for asylum and have received your receipt letter from USCIS, you may use this to show that you have an application pending.


Your Rights After Approval

Can I work if my asylum application was approved?

Yes. If you have been granted final approval of your asylum application, you are eligible to work immediately. You do NOT need to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to work. Your letter showing final approval is sufficient. However, if you want an EAD for identification purposes, you may apply for one.

When can I get a green card and how do I apply for one?

An asylee becomes eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) card one year after they are granted asylum through a process called “adjustment of status”. For more information on applying for a green card as an asylee, go to the USCIS website.

Can I become a U.S. citizen?

To become a U.S. citizen, you must first become a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR” or “Green Card Holder”)-see above. Applicants who are not asylees must have been Lawful Permanent Residents for five (5) years before applying to become U.S. citizens. Asylees, however, may apply for citizenship after four (4) years of being an LPR. This is because their green card will be backdated upon issuance to the date when they were granted asylum.

Can I travel outside of the United States?

It is generally advised that asylees not travel outside of the United States because there is no-guarantee of re-entry. You should never travel to the country from which you claim asylum or use a passport issued by that country to travel as both acts can be interpreted as an admission that you no longer fear persecution in that country or that you claim protection in that country by use of its passport. If you need to travel, you should seek an advance parole travel document from USCIS. You should apply for this document well in advance of your travel.

Can I apply for need-based benefits through the U.S. government?

Yes. For seven (7) years after a final grant of asylum, asylees may apply for welfare, disability, food stamps, and Medicaid through the U.S. government.


Your Rights After Denial

My affirmative asylum application was denied. What are my options?

First, if you’re not already working with an immigration attorney, you should contact one as soon as possible. You will likely receive a Notice of Intent to Deny, explaining why your application is going to be denied. At this point you have a short window during which you can send your argument countering the points made in the notice. After you respond, you will either receive a final denial or approval.

Disclaimer: The contents herein are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice. The contents should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for legal advice. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments. No action should be taken in reliance on the information presented and AsylumConnect disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken in reliance on the contents herein. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.


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