6 Things to Know About Asylum in the United States

A refugee seeking asylum holds a sleeping child.
Image: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File

Each year, refugees from all over the world apply to the United States for asylum. Find out some basic facts and numbers about settlement.

Have refugee admissions — those seeking asylum in the United States — dropped in the U.S.? Here’s six things to know about seeking asylum in the U.S.

#1 There’s a form to request asylum. Refugees may request asylum in the U.S. at an official port of entry by presenting to Custom Boarder Patrol field agents, or when they are already here. Those applying for asylum use the I-589 form.

#2 Thousands request asylum in the U.S. every month. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds quarterly meetings to review monthly Affirmative Asylum Statistics. In 2017 and 2018, thousands of applications for asylum are filed each month. Fore example, in Jun 2017, more than 11,000 applications were submitted and in March 2018, there were more than 8,000.

#3 The U.S. places refugees granted asylum in about 190 communities throughout the country. There are nine domestic resettlement agencies that meet each week to determine where to resettle refugees before the International Organization for Migration books their travel.

#4 The U.S. appears to have accepted more refugees applying for asylum in 2016 than in 2017. The Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration delivers assistance to refugees, including funding resettlement. The agency’s most recent year in review data is for 2016, indicating $545 million was spent for resettlement. The U.S. Refugee Admission Program indicated that in FY 2016, the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees from around the world.

The most recent Department of Homeland Security Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report was issued in the fourth quarter of 2017 and indicated 54,000 refugees were admitted in FY 2017.

#5 About 14 federal agencies provide public services to refugees. Numerous agencies collaborate with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to aid in settlement, assisting with health, employment, integration and other services. The budget in 2016 for these services, plus the travel-related costs, is estimated between $1 and $2 billion, though some say the budget does not reflect true settlement costs.

#6 More refugees are bypassing asylum in the U.S., and are heading to Canada. In January, PBS News Hour explored how fearing U.S. rejection, asylum seekers are fleeing to Canada. Canada has reportedly spent an additional $131 million due to changing U.S. policies on immigration, Reuters reported. And this week, Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen met with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Washington, D.C. to discuss border security issues related to those traveling through the U.S. to seek asylum in Canada, according to CBC Radio-Canada. Hussen also recently pledged $50 million in funding for Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba provinces to help cities like Toronto address sheltering costs for housing refugee claimants, according to The Star.

The city of Toronto expects to have upwards of 5,000 asylum seekers in its shelter system by November, according to CTVNews.ca.

Learn more about refugee processing in the U.S. with this infographic:

Explore previous coverage of refugees:

Experts Say States Lack Legal Authority to Block Refugees

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.