There are two ways to seek asylum in the United States. These are affirmative asylum and defensive asylum. In order to seek affirmative asylum in the US, you must apply to USCIS (Form I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal) with evidence of your persecution, copy of your passport and copies of your civil documents. The asylum application does not require government fees.
Affirmative asylum requires you to be physically present in the United States. You must apply for asylum in the US within one year from the date of your last entry into the United States. Once you apply, you will receive a confirmation letter with a receipt number. You may use the receipt number to check the status of your application online. The processing times are typically long due to the current changes in immigration policy and the number of asylum seekers in the USA. Currently, the wait time for an asylum interview is around four years.
Defensive asylum is a defense against removal proceedings. In many different circumstances, an individual can be placed in removal proceedings. When this happens, a defensive asylum application can be presented in the immigration court and reviewed by an immigration judge. You may be removed if the immigration judge denies your defensive asylum. However, you can still appeal a denial of your defensive asylum application before you are deported.