In early January, foreign nationals who affirmatively apply for asylum can check the application status online. This policy shift is welcome news as previously many asylum seekers waited months to years before receiving a decision on affirmative asylum status from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By going online, you can easily find information about your case from scheduled interviews and appointments to decision updates.
How to check the status of an asylum application online
To check the status of your asylum application online, visit the USCIS website. To use the site, you will need access to the unique receipt number. You can locate your receipt number on the blue or white form issued after you filed your asylum application. The receipt number is a 13-digit number that begins with three letters (the first of which is typically the letter “Z”) and is followed by a string of ten numbers.
Input your receipt number and click “check status.” After you enter your receipt number, you will receive a response, which typically falls along one of the following lines:
Receipt number invalid
If you receive a red message that reads “receipt number invalid”, the number you have entered is incorrect. Common mistakes include using an alien identification number (a 9-digit number) or receipt code from a different USCIS application instead of the receipt number relevant to your asylum case.
Next step: interview
If the receipt number you entered is valid, you may receive a message that reads “next step is interview”. The next stage of the asylum process following your application included an interview with an asylum officer. Try to schedule an interview as soon as possible to minimize any application processing delays.
Once your interview with an asylum officer has been scheduled, you will receive a message that reads “interview is scheduled”. If you receive this message and you have not received information about the time and location of your interview, contact the asylum office. If you fail to attend your scheduled interview with an asylum officer, USCIS may deny your application.
After your initial interview with an asylum officer, you will receive a message that reads “decision is pending.” The asylum officer usually will follow-up with you within two weeks following the interview, but in many cases, decisions remain pending for a long period of time.
If you have not received a final decision within six months of your initial interview with an asylum officer, you may wish to consult with an immigration lawyer to accelerate a USCIS decision on your case.
Decision picked up
If you receive a message that reads “decision picked up”, it typically means that USCIS has made a decision regarding your asylum case. You can either pick up your decision yourself or request that it be mailed directly to the address you provided on your asylum application.
If you receive this message and you have not received a decision, contact the asylum office immediately to receive an update on your status.
Missing biometrics appointment
In order for your asylum case to be approved, you must complete biometric testing. You can find appointment details by visiting the USCIS Case Status website.
Pending asylum case? What you can do in the meantime
The wait time for a final decision about an asylum case can be several months or, in some cases, years.
While you wait to find out the decision about your asylum case, here are a few things that you have the right to do in the meantime that can help you get settled in the U.S.
Work authorization application
If you are in the U.S., have applied for asylum and have been waiting for a period of 150 days or more to hear a decision about your case, you are legally allowed to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
In order to apply for an EAD, submit Form I-765, the Employment Authorization Document alongside a copy of your asylum application receipt.
If your asylum case has been delayed for more than 150 days because you failed to schedule an interview or complete a biometrics screening, you may have to wait longer to apply for an EAD.
Move to another location in the U.S.
While waiting to hear the decision about your asylum case, you can move to another location in the U.S.. If you do decide to re-locate, remember to notify USCIS or the immigration courts about your new address. Failure to do so could delay the processing of your asylum case, especially if you move to a state outside of the one where you filed your application and your case needs to be moved to a different immigration court. To ensure USCIS has up-to-date contact details, file a change of address by completing and submitting Form EORI-33, Alien’s Change of Address Form/Immigration Court of the US Department of Justice.
If you moved to a location outside of the jurisdiction of the court where you initially filed for asylum, you will have to file a Motion to Change Venue. You may wish to consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure that your case is successfully moved to a different court in order to avoid further delays.
Register for school
Not every school will allow you to enroll while your case is pending; however, there are several institutions that will make an exception. To learn which schools will be willing to accept you as a student, contact their respective admissions offices. If you locate a program that will permit you to enroll and you cannot afford the fees, there are school loans available for asylum seekers that you may be eligible for.
Keeping track of the status of your asylum application online using the USCIS case status website is an easy way to remain current with the status of your application. By using the website, you will be able to find out important information about your application, including anything that you may need to do to speed up the decision, such as schedule or attend appointments.
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