How Asylum Applicants Can Check Status of Affirmatively Filed Case Online

Tips for successfully getting information on the status of your asylum case from the USCIS online case status service.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

People who applied for asylum affirmatively (meaning not as a defense to removal in immigration court) can check the status of their case online, a relatively new initiative. Given that affirmative asylum cases can wait for a decision from the U.S. government for years, being able to check case status online can give peace of mind to applicants who worry about missing an interview, a decision, or an important appointment, such as with an asylum officer.

To check the status of your asylum case, go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Case Status website.

This is the same site you would use to check the status of a work permit or any other USCIS application.

Using the USCIS Case Status Website

The USCIS Case Status site contains a box asking for your receipt number. You can find this number on the blue carbon paper receipt that you hopefully got soon after you applied by submitting USCIS Form I-589. Or it might be on white paper, especially if you applied recently. You will know you have the right code to use with the website if it begins with three letters (and the first of those letters letter is "Z"), followed by ten digits.

Once you put your asylum receipt code into the site, you might see a number of different responses.

First, you might see a message in red saying that the receipt code you entered is invalid. If this happens, double check that you have the right code and aren't using your alien registration number or A# (which is a nine-digit number) or a receipt code from another USCIS application, like your work permit.

If USCIS received your asylum application and has not yet been scheduled you for an interview, the site will say "Next Step Is an Interview."

If you scroll down the page, the site also lists how many days your asylum application has been pending (awaiting action or a decision).

Using the Information to Determine Whether You're Eligible for a Work Permit

The number of days your application has been pending is particularly important when it comes to your eligibility for a work permit (employment authorization document or EAD).

If your asylum application has been pending for more than 150 days (and you haven't been the cause of delays), you are eligible to file for a work permit, though it can be approved by USCIS only after 180 days had passed. See When Can Asylum Applicants Get a Work Permit (EAD Card)? for details.

Dealing With the Long Wait for an Asylum Decision

If you are still waiting for an interview with the asylum office, there is not much you can do except continue to wait (unless you have an emergency reason to expedite your application).

If you have been scheduled for an interview at the asylum office, the USCIS site will say, "Interview is Scheduled."

Unfortunately, the site does not contain information on the actual interview date or time. Because interview notices are usually sent out a few weeks before an interview, you should contact the asylum office immediately if you see this notification and you did not receive a notice in the mail. If you miss your scheduled interview, your asylum application will be denied, and you could be put into removal proceedings.

If you have already had your interview at the asylum office and a decision has not yet been made, the site will say "Decision is Pending." While the normal procedures is for the asylum officer to tell you to return in two weeks after your interview to receive a decision, or that your decision will be mailed within a certain time frame, many decisions are left pending much longer than expected.

If your decision has been pending for more than six months after your interview, contact an immigration attorney, who can explain your legal options to put pressure on USCIS to issue a decision.

If a decision was reached on your case, the site will say "Decision Was Picked Up." The site might say this even if you did not pick up a decision and it was instead mailed to you. If you see this status and did not receive a decision, contact the asylum office immediately.

The USCIS Case Status site will also alert you if you have missed a fingerprint (biometrics) appointment, which must be completed before an interview. If you missed a fingerprint appointment, contact USCIS to reschedule as soon as possible.

The USCIS website is a helpful tool to track the status of your asylum case and ensure that you don't miss an important interview or notice. If you encounter problems using the website, you can contact USCIS's help center at 1-800-375-5283.

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