I am in the process of completing my Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, I have a pending asylum case in Europe, but it was taking so long to process that I decided to come to the United States. How will this affect my U.S. asylum application?
When you complete Form I-589, you will be asked whether you have ever travelled through or resided in another country (besides the one from which you are requesting protection) before coming to the United States. USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) want to know if you could have applied for asylum in this third country or if you have a right to live there now because of a previous asylum or other immigration application.
You will also be asked whether you have ever applied for residence or asylum in any other country besides the United States. This is a dual purpose question: 1) to determine whether your current asylum claim has merit, and 2) to indicate whether you can be safely returned to a country other than the one where you fear persecution.
If your application for asylum in another country was denied, these U.S. government agencies will want to know why you didn’t qualify. If it was approved, you may be required to return to that country.
If you have a pending asylum case in a third country and are still awaiting a final decision, you will need to provide details of that request to either USCIS (if submitting an affirmative application) or DHS (if applying in Immigration Court). Your application for U.S. asylum will likely be placed on hold until you receive a final determination on your earlier asylum request from another country.
If it is eventually established that you have a right to live in another country, it is highly likely that your U.S. asylum application will be denied. There are exceptions, however. For example, many refugees and asylees with permission to live in Syria have recently fled there given the recent violent upheaval in that country. You should be prepared to document why you no longer wish to avail yourself of the protections of any other country where you have been granted asylum or any other immigration benefit.