After you complete the affirmative asylum process, you will receive a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The type of the document depends on the decision that USCIS made in your case.
What are the types of asylum decisions?
You will receive one of the following decisions:
- Grant of Asylum
- Recommended Approval
- Referral to an Immigration Court
- Notice of Intent to Deny
- Final Denial
We will explain what each of these decisions mean and what you should do after receiving them.
Grant of Asylum
The grant of asylum, as the name suggests, confirms that USCIS permitted you to stay in the United States as a refugee. Upon receiving a letter and Form I-94, you are considered an asylee – a person who legally entered the U.S. and who fully qualifies as a refugee.
What this means is that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. indefinitely. With the grant of asylum, you are also allowed to work in the U.S. without the necessity to apply Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. More than that, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card, just one year after you were granted asylum. (Typical minimal periods necessary for acquiring a green card are three or five years.) You can also apply for Social Security card. Lastly, the grant of asylum opens the opportunity for you to naturalize in five years and become a U.S. citizen.
Other advantages that you get when being granted asylum are related to moving your family to the U.S. If you have an unmarried child under 21 years of age or a spouse, you can file Form I-730 with USCIS (this form is also known as Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition). If you and your family meet the eligibility criteria, the U.S. government will allow them to arrive to the United States.
In all, consider the decision of granting you asylum a very successful outcome. Next, we will review the recommended approval decision.
Once you obtain a recommended approval decision, you are one step closer to becoming an asylee. USCIS mails a recommended approval only when the applicant is legally located on the U.S. territory and passes all the eligibility requirements. The only stipulation is that you must successfully pass the additional security checks.
Basically, USCIS awaits a decision from DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) to understand if you were engaged in any activities that endanger the lives and well-being of individuals in the United States. That is why, although a recommended approval sounds positive, not always you will be granted asylum. If you believe that you violated a law in the U.S. or any other country, which may compromise your chances to become an asylee, you should consult an immigration lawyer. Understandably, if you have several tickets for parking, USCIS will not consider such violations of law as a bar to granting asylum.
The last important aspect of obtaining a recommended approval is that you can finally apply Form I-765 and get a job. You cannot legally work in the U.S. before you were granted asylum or received a recommended approval decision.
Referral to an Immigration Court
A referral to an Immigration Court is mailed to you when USCIS finds out that you are illegally located on the U.S. territory. You will receive Form I-862, Notice to Appear, and you will have to attend a hearing in court.
USCIS typically mails Form I-862 if you illegally entered the United States through airport or border control. For example, if you did not have a valid visa, USCIS will refer you to an Immigration Court. USCIS will not decide whether you should be granted asylum, but the Immigration Judge. You should bring any documentation to the court to justify your claim for asylum in the U.S. If possible, you should also hire a lawyer to support you in the court.
Notice of Intent to Deny
Once you receive NOID, or a Notice of Intent to Deny, this means that USCIS found you ineligible to obtain asylum in the United States. Although they consider you as a legal immigrant, you did not actually qualify for receiving asylum.
If that is your case, you must contact USCIS as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after you received your NOID. (Strictly speaking, USCIS will be waiting for 16 days, but we recommend that you contact USCIS earlier than on the 16th day.)
You will have to provide more documentation – photos, videos, or other evidence – to prove your eligibility for receiving asylum. If you fail to find more documents, an asylum officer will take the final decision and reject your application.
The last section of our article discusses the final denial decision.
The final denial means that USCIS rejected your application and you will not be granted asylum in the U.S. Unfortunately, you cannot challenge this decision. There is only one option for you: you may apply for asylum once more. But you must also provide new evidence that you situation has changed and you became eligible to obtain asylum.
Note that the final denial document can be issued for two reasons:
- You failed to contact USCIS within the 16 day period after USCIS mailed you a Notice of Intent to Deny; or
- You failed to provide convincing documentation to an asylum officer.
You may need to consult a professional immigration lawyer or attorney who can help you at different stages of asylum process. A professional lawyer will answer any of your question about receiving asylum and the USCIS decisions.