Written Application

This page provides a step-by-step guide to filling out an application for asylum. We strongly advise anyone thinking of applying for asylum to contact a trustworthy and qualified legal representative before filing their claim.


  • Find an immigration attorney, if possible. Visit our Legal Resources page to learn more.
  • Keep copies of ALL documents throughout the process
  • Remember to include certified translations of documents, if needed
  • Remember to notarize documents where necessary
  • Use certified mail when submitting documents (ask at the post office)


Components of Written Application

  1. Immigration Form I-589: Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
    1. Fill out EVERY question on the application. Even if the applicant has no answer to a question, write “None” rather than leaving the question blank.
    2. For Part B (beginning of page 5), we recommend that the applicant answer each question rather than writing “See affidavit.” Even though the asylum application will include a detailed affidavit which answers these questions, writing answers to the questions in Part B may help during the interview stage of the application.
    3. Step-by-step guides for filling out Form I-589 can be found here or here.
  2. Asylum Declaration (First Person Narrative) or “Affidavit”
    1. This document is arguably the most important in an asylum application. It provides the applicant the opportunity to tell his/her complete story using his/her own words. However, attorneys, social workers, advocates, and others may (and should) help the applicant to craft a clear and accurate narrative.
    2. There is no length requirement for the Asylum Declaration. Commonly, the length is between 10-25 pages.
    3. Details are important. Asylum seekers should tell the full story of their lives, including their childhood; when they realized their LGBT identity; descriptions of all abuses, discrimination, or persecution threatened or experienced; why they desire to stay in the US; and more. Use dates whenever possible to paint a clear timeline.
    4. See here for a general outline / example of Asylum Declaration.
    5. Dos and don’ts for this narrative can be found here.
    6. This document must be submitted in English. If the narrative was originally composed in a language other than English and then translated, the applicant should include a certificate of translation.
    7. When the narrative is complete, get it notarized by a certified Notary Public.
  3. Corroborating (supporting) Documents
    1. These documents provide evidence to support the applicant’s story and prove his/her claims. Potential corroborating documents include: police records; medical records; affidavits or letters from family, friends, partners, or others who can attest to the asylum seeker’s claims; school records; employment records; and any other documents that show the Asylum Declaration to be true.
    2. It is especially critical for LGBT asylum applications to provide proof of their engagement in LGBT community or social spaces and evidence of their LGBT identity, as well as proof of any abuse, threats, or persecution experienced.
    3. Many of these corroborating documents will be difficult to get ahold of and will come from the applicant’s home country. It is very important to start this process as early as possible.
    4. All documents should be translated (if necessary) and if at all possible, notarized. Unnotarized documents will be accepted but may be given less weight.
    5. More details about corroborating documents can be found here.
  4. Corroborating (supporting) Country Conditions
    1. These documents must prove that the applicant’s fear of persecution in his/her home country is well-founded. Evidence of LGBT discrimination can be found from a number of different sources. Some possibilities are as follows:
      1. US State Department reports on human rights conditions
      2. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
      3. Human Rights Watch
      4. Amnesty International
      5. See our page on Global LGBT Rights for more resources
    2. Extensive internet searches may reveal other recent reports and evidence. This can include magazine and newspaper articles.
    3. Include as much information as possible. No article is too long or too short. Articles in different languages should be translated with a certificate of translation.
    4. More details about corroborating country conditions can be found here.

 See Submitting the Application for what to expect after putting together your written application.