** LEGAL UPDATE**
Starting in January 2019, people who applied for asylum affirmatively (meaning not as a defense to removal in immigration court) can check the status of their case online. Given that affirmative asylum cases can now wait for a decision from the U.S. government for years, being able to check case status online will give peace of mind to applicants who may 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 your asylum receipt number on the blue carbon paper receipt that you received soon after you applied. Your asylum receipt may also 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 may see a message in red 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 you have not yet been scheduled 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. If it has been pending for more than 150 days, you are eligible to file for a work permit, which can be approved by USCIS after 180 days.
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 you application). The site will state the number of days your case has been pending until a decision has been reached.
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 only a few weeks before an interview, you should contact or visit 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 usually the asylum officer will tell you to return in two weeks after your interview to receive a decision, 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 may 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, to receive the decision in your case.
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 new 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 any problems using the website, you can contact the USCIS help center at 1-800-375-5283.
Effective Date: January 28, 2019