Rules for seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border have been changing. Learn about the end of Title 42. Understand the process for the CBP One app, expedited removal, and credible fear interview. Find resources to help you near the border.
Important: The information below includes the latest DHS updates after Title 42 ended. A court has challenged these policies, but there is no immediate change. The policies below are currently in effect. This page will be updated if there are changes.
What is asylum?
Asylum is a form of protection that allows you to stay in the USA if you have been persecuted or fear persecution in your home country because of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. You must apply for asylum within one year of entering the USA.
Asking for asylum at the U.S. border
International and U.S. law gives everyone the right to ask for asylum in the USA and at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is your legal right even though the U.S. government is passing new laws to make it more difficult. This is part of a larger effort to try to have fewer people come to the U.S. border.
If you have a visa to enter the USA or received authorization to travel to the U.S. for parole, you can go to any port of entry and legally request asylum.
May 2023 policy changes
On May 11, 2023, U.S. policies related to asylum changed, and Title 42 ended. The U.S. will increase processing under Title 8 law. If you do not have authorization to enter the U.S. and want to ask for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, you now must do one of the following:
- Make an appointment with CBP One app
- Have applied for asylum in one other country and been denied
- Show that you are at extreme risk such as having an acute medical emergency or an immediate threat to your safety
People from certain countries may also be eligible to apply for alternative forms of protection inside the USA. These programs allow people to come to the U.S. without entering at the border. If you are eligible you can apply for:
- Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans
- Family reunification parole process
If you do not do one of the above and try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, you will likely be:
- Removed from the U.S. in a few days
- Unable to ask for asylum
- Banned from re-entering the U.S. for at least 5 years and could face prison and fines if you cross illegally again
|There are no nationality-based exemptions. These rules may not fully apply to children traveling alone.|
CBP One app
If you want to ask for asylum in the USA at the U.S.-Mexico border, you must first make an appointment through the CBP One app. If you have already been denied asylum in another country, you do not need to make an appointment. An appointment allows you to present your information at a border entry point.
You must be in Central or Northwest Mexico to use the app. Appointments are not always available and you may have to try many times. An appointment does not guarantee entry.
If you can not use the CBP One app because you can not read or you have major technical issues, you can ask for an exception at the border. They will ask you to prove that you were unable to use the app. If they accept your evidence, you may be given the opportunity to make your credible fear case. You may be put in a detention center while you wait.
If you do not use the CBP One app (or have an exception) or have not been denied asylum in another country, you will be put in expedited removal.
Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans may now be eligible for a temporary program to come to the USA to live and work for 2 years. If you are trying to enter the USA and cross Panama, Mexico, or the U.S. border you will not be allowed to apply. Cubans and Haitians who try to enter the U.S. by water are also not eligible. Learn more.
If you are a national from Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, you may qualify to join your family in the USA through family reunification parole processes.
To be eligible, you must have an approved Form I-130 with a family member who is either a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. You can only apply if your family received an invitation from the Department of State.
If you are already in immigration court proceedings the new rule will not apply to you.
You cannot seek asylum at the U.S.-Canada border if you passed through Canada first unless you meet an exception. This is called the Safe Third Country rule. This rule requires you to apply for asylum in whichever country you arrive first (the U.S. or Canada).
If you enter Canada first and try to come to the U.S. across the land border, you will not be allowed to apply for asylum. You will be returned to Canada.
If you are denied asylum in Canada, you cannot apply for asylum in the U.S.
As of March 2023, this rule now applies to the entire U.S.-Canada border. This means that you will be returned whether you cross at an official port of entry or another location. If you are caught inside the U.S. within 14 days of crossing, you will be automatically returned without the chance to apply for asylum.
If you have been in the USA for longer than 14 days you can apply for asylum.
It is important you know your rights with U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If you are taken, stay calm. For your own safety, it is important to respect the authorities:
- Follow instructions
- Do not argue, struggle, or resist
- Do not tell lies or show false documents
- Always keep your hands where the agent can see them
You will be kept in place by law enforcement and have to follow strict rules until they decide on your case. This is called being in DHS custody. The place you are kept will either be a U.S. Border Patrol or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility.
If you are detained it is important to know your rights:
- You have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney.
- You do not have to sign anything before speaking to an attorney.
- You have the right to a telephone call to speak to a family member.
- Border Patrol and CBP officers are not allowed to use physically or verbally abusive behavior, threats, or intimidation tactics against you.
Learn more with ACLU’s Know Your Rights.
You will likely be brought to an ICE detention center. You will go through an initial processing procedure that includes having your fingerprints and photograph.
You may be detained in shared or individual cells or dormitory-style rooms. Men and women could be separated. You will likely have limited freedom of movement and are not allowed to leave the facility.
You should be provided with basic necessities such as bedding, toiletries, and meals. You should also have access to medical care.
Conditions and treatment in detention facilities can be very different based on where you are. There have been cases of human rights abuses and poor conditions. It is important to understand your rights and to seek legal help if you or someone you know is being detained.
Expedited removal allows immigration officers to quickly decide if a person should be deported without appearing before a judge. Under new policies, more people will face expedited removal from the USA.
You can be placed in expedited removal proceedings if you entered the U.S. without a visa or with false entry documents. You will be sent back to Mexico or your home country and banned from entering the U.S. for 5 years.
Expedited removal applies to both single adults and families. It is not allowed for unaccompanied children.
|If you say that you want to apply for asylum or fear persecution, you have the right to a credible fear interview. You should not be removed from the U.S. until an asylum officer decides whether you have a credible fear and can apply for asylum. Some people are still removed without an interview even though this is a right. Find help.|
Credible fear means there is good reason to believe your fear of persecution. An asylum officer will give a credible fear interview to learn more about your fear of returning.
The credible fear screening will happen over the phone or in person while you are detained. An asylum officer will ask you questions. Your answers will help them decide if your claim is strong enough to go forward with an asylum interview or immigration hearing.
They might ask:
- Why did you leave your home or country of last residence?
- Do you have any fear or concern about being returned to your home country or being removed from the U.S.?
- Would you be harmed if you are returned to your home country or country of last residence?
- Do you have any questions or is there anything else you would like to add?
Be honest and explain all the important details.
Keep good notes. Write down key dates to make sure you tell your case correctly each time. If you change a part of your story accidentally, it could negatively affect your case.
Seek legal advice. Immigration officials will give you a list of free or low-cost legal service providers that can help you prepare for your credible fear interview.
If the asylum officer decides you have a credible fear they will either:
- Consider your case further in a second interview called the Asylum Merits Interview and you will not need to file Form I-589.
– or –
- Give your case to an immigration judge to review as a defensive asylum case and you will need to file Form I-589.
If the asylum officer decides you do not have a credible fear, you can ask an immigration judge to review their decision in a hearing.
- If the judge disagrees with the asylum officer, you will be able to make your case in an immigration court hearing.
- If the immigration judge agrees with the asylum officer, ICE will remove you from the United States.
If you do not ask for a review, ICE will remove you from U.S.
The asylum process is very complicated. It is important to review your options for legal help. Many organizations and lawyers offer free or low-cost legal services and support. Some are listed below.
You have a better chance of getting asylum with the help of an immigration attorney or accredited legal representative. They can help you complete your application and prepare for your interview or hearing.
Free membership with legal help
Help to find services near you
Search for legal help by detention facility
Help for those who have been detained
9233# from a detention facility phone
Help if separated from a child or family
Help for those sexually assaulted in a detention facility or elsewhere
Help if separated from a child or family. Available 24 hours a day
699# from a detention facility phone
Help for refugees and asylum-seekers detained in the U.S
#566 from a detention facility phone
Get updates about your case
Get information on family members and your case. Report problems while in detention such as sexual or physical abuse
Other state organizations that are helping people at the border include:
The information on this page comes from DHS, non-profit organizations working at the border, and other trusted sources. We aim to offer easy to understand information that is updated regularly. This information is not legal advice.