Asylum Seeking Process

This information provides non-legal volunteers with basic tools to support recent immigrant arrivals in navigating the legal system in a responsible manner. This information was provided by The Resurrection Project (TRP). TRP Provides the tools and services necessary to navigate a complex immigration legal system, ensuring access to justice for immigrants. TRP strives to keep families together and protect the rights of our most vulnerable community members. They advocate for immigration policies and offer high-quality legal screenings, representation, and bilingual trainings.

  • US Immigration System Overview
  • Legal Pathways: Potential Immigration Relief
  • Navigating The Immigration Legal System
  • How can We support newly arrived Immigrants?

US Immigration System Overview

  • Since August 2022, over 10,000 immigrants arrived in Illinois
  • Most are recent arrivals in the US
  • State Services
    • 2,000 individuals (mostly families) were housed by IDHS at hotels
  • City Services
    • Thousands housed in shelters. Shelters are currently at capacity
    • Recently started providing case management services

Newly Arrived Immigrants in IL

Recent Developments

  • Title 42 rule that allowed authorities to expeditiously remove immigrants, expired on May 11, 2023
  • The administration announced a set of policies that went into effect wit the lifting of Title 42
    • Limited new opportunities to lawfully enter the US
    • Severely restricting access to asylum
  • Texas resumed busing of immigrants, including to Chicago

Legal Services

  • State funding provided to 4 legal service organizations
  • Partners providing services to recent arrivals on and off-site
  • Since January, conducted over 400 legal screenings
  • City of Chicago has yet to invest in legal services
  • Current Services
    • Group legal orientations
    • Comprehensive 1:1 legal screenings
    • Limited case representation
    • Limited 1:1 pro se assistance


  • Potential Immigration Relief
    • Screenings indicate majority of clients are potentially eligible for asylum
      • Political persecution
      • Domestic violence
    • Few Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
    • Growing number of U-Visa (victims of crimes in the US)
  • Other Common Legal Needs
    • Growing number of those screened are in removal proceedings
    • ICE Checkin-ins
    • Change of Address
    • Change of Venue
    • Employment Authorization application

US Immigration System

  • A new immigrant should not assume that they have the automatic right to receive permanent legal status or a work permit in the US
  • Many recent arrivals do NOT have permanent immigration status, but rather parole for 15 to 60 days after entering the US
  • The process to obtain legal status, if eligible, is complicated and takes time
  • Everyone’s Situation is Unique
    • It is possible that other people don’t have the same CBP or ICE documents. Some people received “parole” and other may no have
    • It is possible that some don’t have to follow the same process as others: some have a case before Immigration Court, others don’t; some have to report to ICE, others don’t



  • Department of Homeland Security
    • Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP): Border enforcement, usually the first point of contact for new arrivals
    • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Enforcement within the US
    • US Citizenship and Immigration Services: Reviews applications including asylum and work authorization
  • Department of Justice
    • Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR): Conducts removal proceedings
    • Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA): Reviews appeals on immigration Court decision

Potential Immigration Relief

  • Immigration law is very complex, which is why it is important for arriving immigrants to seek out trusted legal help to protect themselves against fraud
  • ONLY attorneys and representatives accredited to the Department of Justice (DOJ) with certain nonprofit organizations can advise, complete, and file immigration applications
  • Notaries public are NOT lawyers and cannot provide immigration advice
  • There are people who take advantage of immigrants. Here are some red flags
    • Makes grand promises of what they can do
    • Determine someone qualifies for a visa or green card without asking many questions
    • Pressure them to pay or sign a contract very quickly
  • To protect themselves and their families, immigrants should
  • Ask questions about their immigration experience and review their credentials
  • Seek help from the many trusted community organizations that provide free legal services
  • Check if their legal representative is accredited at
  • Overview
    • Family-Based Petitions
      • Asylum
      • U-Visa
      • T-Visa
      • SIJS
    • Employment-Based Petitions
    • Protections-Based Petitions
    • Temporary Based Petitions
      • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
    • Other Petitions
  • Parole
    • Immigration officials allow some individuals who cross the boarder to be “paroled” into the United States
    • Parole is a temporary authorization to stay in the United States for the period of time listed on the paperwork
    • Parole does not lead to any permanent legal status on its own, nor does it give automatic authorization to receive a work permit
    • To obtain permanent legal status, a new immigrant must file an application for immigration benefits for which they qualify
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
    • TPS is a temporary immigration status for people who entered the United States before a certain date and cannot return to their home country due to “extraordinary and temporary conditions”
    • The US Government decides which countries receive TPS and when the application period is open. The following countries are currently designated for TPS
      • Burma, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela
        • TPS provides protection from deportation and a work permit: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen
  • USCIS Announced new processes for Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Haitians
    • This process applies only to people who are outside the US
    • This process allows eligible individuals, currently outside the US, to enter with a permit if they have a supporter in the US. A support must have legal status in the US and prove that they are able to financially support the applicant
  • Asylum
    • Immigration status for those who cannot return to their country of origin because
      • They have been harmed or persecuted in the past or fear being harmed or persecuted in the future
      • Because of a characteristic that they cannot change or shouldn’t have to change
      • By the government in their country to or a person/group that the government can’t or won’t control
    • Generally, need to apply within ONE year of arrival to US
    • If granted, asylum grants permanent immigration status and a work permit. Applicants can apply for a work permit 6 months after filing if their case is still pending
    • To be eligible for asylum, persecution (past or future) must be based on one of the following characteristics:
      • Race
      • Religion
      • Nationality
      • Political opinion (or political opinion someone thinks you have)
      • Membership in a “particular social group”
    • A new immigrant may be eligible to apply for permanent status
      • U Visa: they suffer or were witness to a serious crime in the United States and a they reported it to law enforcement. (Domestic violence, rape, assault, crimes involving guns, some crimes in the workplace
      • T Visa: Somone forced them to work in any job or participate in sex acts; someone forced them to work to pay off a large debt
      • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS): They are less than 21 years old and one of their parents has passed away or has abused, abandoned, or neglected them
    • What is the timeline for a new immigrant who is eligible for any immigration relief?
      • The average time for an asylum application to be adjudicated is over 5 years
      • Not all immigration benefits make an applicant eligible for work aurthorization
      • If they are eligible for a work permit, it may take 6 months to 1 year or more to receive it.
      • Some court hearings are scheduled years in the future. Individuals must check their case status periodically

Navigating the Immigration Legal System

  • ICE Check-Ins
  • Notice to Appear
  • How to Check an EOIR Case Status
  • Change of Address
  • Change of Venue
  • Work Authorization

ICE Check-Ins

  • It is important to complete ALL check-ins with ICE. If a new immigrant doesn’t comply, ICE can search for and detain them
  • ICE Office in Chicago: 101 West Congress Parkway, Chicago IL 60605
  • If they were recently released from the border, it’s possible that ICE game the them option to complete their check-in electronically.
  • ICE Check-In Scheduled in Chicago
  • ICE Check-In Scheduled outside of Chicago
    • Leave a voicemail a the office where they are scheduled with their full name and A number. Notify that they are in Chicago. Email
  • Submission Tip
    • Include full names and A numbers of all family members
    • Provide phone number and address. Note: TEMPORARY as applicable
    • Follow all directions provided by ICE
  • ICE Check-Ins: Form I-385
    • Form I-365 is an ICE Check-In notice that people crossing the US-Mexico boarder may receive.
    • Typically, the form indicates that one must register at an ICE office within 60 days the form does not necessarily provide a fixed date or location
  • Notice to Appear
    • The Notice to Appear (NTA) explains why the government believes that person is removable from the United Sates
    • The NTA provides date and time to appear before a Department of Justice Immigration Judge
    • Immigrants can confirm the time and date by checking their case status
      • Immigrants may have a case before the Immigration Court (EOIR) if they have received a Notice to Appear (NTA) Even if they have not received an NTA, they should check their case status with EOIR Automated Case Information at least once a week.
      • Phone: Call 1-800-898-7180 and press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish. Then enter your alien registration number (A Number)
  • Check-Ins versus Court Hearings
    • ICE Check-Ins are a meeting with an immigration agent to review their case and the reason why they should not be detained. Generally, one check-in per year
    • Immigration Court Hearings occur before an immigration judge and are to explain the reasons why they should be permitted to stay in the US. There are two types of hearings
      • First “Master” hearing to review the case. They can and should ask for more time to look for an attorney
      • “Individual” hearing to present their case to remain permanently in the US, present evidence, and give testimony. They judge will decide their case.
  • Change of Address
    • Immigrants who are placed in deportation proceedings have the responsibility to keep their address up to date with ICE and the immigration court (EOIR)
    • Immigrants who are in temporary shelter should wait to change their address until they have found permanent housing
    • A separate form should be submitted for each individual with a case. Submission Tip: Immigrants should save a copy for their records. Always send by certified mail. Send a copy to the Office of the Chief Legal Counsel of DHS-ICH
      • ICE – Online submission
      • Form EOIR-33 is available for downloading and mailing
  • Change of Venue
    • A new immigrant must appear at the immigration court listed on their Notice to Appear or request a Change of Venue
      • EOIR provides a sample Motion to Change Venue
      • Print and send the Motion, supporting evidence and EOIR-33 form by mail to the Immigration Court where the case is currently venued
      • A separate form should be submitted for each individual with a case. Submission Tip: Immigrants should save a copy for their records. Always send by certified mail. Send a copy to the Office of the Chief Legal Counsel of DHS-ICH
  • Work Authorization
    • To work in the US legally, you need a work permit from USCIS (Untied State Citizenship & Immigration Services)Work permits are not given to everyone present in the US. Work permits are considered an immigration benefit for certain types of applicationsAfter applying for a work permit, it can take several months to be approvedIf an application for a work permit is approved, they will receive the work permit and can obtain a Social Security NumberOnly USCIS can grant work authorizationPretending to be a US citizen, suing someone else’s name or SSN can have serious consequences for an individual’s immigration caseNo one should use carry or carry false documents with themInformation about ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is available here
  • Supporting Newly Arrived Immigrants
  • The Role of Non-Legal Volunteers
  • Avoiding Unauthorized Practice of Law
  • How Can we Support New Arrivals?
  • Avoiding Unauthorized Practice of Law
  • Only licensed attorneys, DOJ accredited representatives, and law students under attorney supervision can represent in court, advise clients on cases, or select forms and decide on required information
  • Legal Information
    • General factual information about the law or legal process intended to help and individual navigate the legal system
    • Legal information is neutral. It does not give one person an advantage over the over other
    • Legal information is universal. It is always the same, no matter who is asking
    • Legal information is objective. It is always the same, no matter the facts of the case
    • Legal information is unrestricted. Non-lawyers can five legal information
  • Legal Advice
    • Guidance regarding an individual’s legal rights and obligations in light of their unique facts and circumstances
    • Legal advice is biased. It is intended to give one person a legal advantage over another
    • Legal advice is customized. It will change depending on who is asking and what they want
    • Legal advice is subjective. It will change depending on the facts of the case.
    • Legal advice is restricted. Only lawyers or DOJ accredited representatives are authorized to give legal advice
  • Potential Consequences of Unauthorized Practice of Law
    • Penalties for the unauthorized practice of law can be civil or criminal in nature
    • A person can be sued for injuries resulting from UPL
    • A court can order a person to stop practicing law, impose fines, or-in the case of a criminal UPL violation – send someone to jail
    • Put immigrants at risk of deportation or other negative immigration consequences
  • Regardless of immigration status, everyone has the rights at work.
    • Receive at least the minimum wage in the area where they work (Chicago: $15.40/hr, Some cities in Cook County: $13.70, rest of Illinios: $13/hr)
    • Receive payment for each hour worked, and if they work more than 40 hours a week, receive overtime pay (1.5 x normal salary)
    • Have a safe workplace free from discrimination, sexual harassment, intimidation or violence
    • If a migrant suffers an accident at work, they should receive 66% fo their salary, pay for all medical expenses, and be protected from dismissal
Remind people you are not a lawyerSay you are a legal expert of attorney
Refer people to workshops and screening toolsSay word ‘enough’ or ‘should’
Provide general information and materialsTell someone they do or don’t qualify for DACA, Citizenship or Other forms of Relief
Help people collect their documentsTell someone weather their application is complete
Encourage applicants to seek legal helpCharge fees for your services
Explain a process to individualsMake a prediction for an individual
Share all available optionsSuggest one particular option

What Can I Do to Support the Newly Arrived Immigrants?

  • Share Important Information
    • General Immigration Next Steps flyer
    • ICE Check-In/Change of Address flyer
    • Resource flyer
    • General KYR, workers’ rights, etc
  • Help new arrivals check their case status with EOIR (Immigration Court)
  • Share Information on currently available legal help
  • Help prepare for legal consultation
  • Accompany immigrant to appointments

Currently Available Legal Services

Preparing for Legal Screening

  • Help write out their story
  • Help compile documents and evidence for their case
    • Identification documents: passport, birth certificate, etc
    • Any correspondence with US immigration agencies
    • Documents from country of origin
    • Other documents (health care, education, housing, etc.)


  • Accompany people to their appointments (Legal appointments, medical, etc)
  • Help people learn to use CTA
  • Help translate or interpret
  • Check their case status with immigration court

Additional Resources

  • National Immigrant Justice Center Immigration Court Helpdesk (312-660-1328)
    • Provides free legal information to unrepresented individuals at the Chicago Immigration Court
      • Overview of the immigration processForms of relief available to individuals fighting their cases in courtHow to change your address or change the location of your court hearing
    • NIJC does NOT provide legal advice or representation
  • Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) – Legal Resources
  • Healthcare
    • Individuals ages 42+ regardless of status visit Healthy IL
    • Children regardless of Immigration status Visit All Kids
  • IL Welcoming Centers: 34 centers across the State, providing case management and service coordination
  • CityKey: a free optional government-issued ID card (only used for identification)