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.
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. Or it might be on white paper, especially if you applied very 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 identification number (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).
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). As of late 2020, however, the rules for this are in flux.
Before August 25, 2020, if your asylum application had been pending for more than 150 days, you were eligible to file for a work permit, which could be approved by USCIS only after 180 days had passed.
We are now past that date, and USCIS is attempting to put new rules into effect. Among other things, the new rules would extend the wait time before an asylum applicant can apply for employment authorization from 150 days to 365 calendar days. The new rules would also prevent applicants who, absent good cause, illegally entered the United States from obtaining employment authorization based on a pending asylum application. They would set new bars to authorization, such as for criminal behavior; would limit the employment authorization validity period to a maximum of two years; and would require automatic termination of employment authorization when an applicant’s asylum denial is administratively final.
Nevertheless, the new rules are on hold, owing to a federal court decision in the case of Casa de Maryland, Inc. v. Wolf. Until that litigation is concluded, the old rules will remain in effect. Check with an attorney for the latest.
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 (subject to changes for COVID-19 to avoid in-person contact), many decisions are left pending much longer than this.
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 the USCIS help center at 1-800-375-5283.