How long does the asylum process take?
According to the law, a decision should be made on your asylum application within 180 days after the date you filed your application.1 However, the process often takes much longer. The American Immigration Council reports that people who were granted asylum in March 2018 waited 1,000 days (on average) from the time they applied for asylum until they received the immigration court’s decision.2
1 8 U.S.C. § 1158(d)(5)(A)(iii)
2 See Asylum in the United States, American Immigration Council (May 14, 2018)
Do I need to see an immigration attorney even if I cannot afford one?
There are ways to see a lawyer even if you cannot afford one, and you should always try to contact a lawyer before applying to the USCIS. Your conversation with the attorney will be confidential, and s/he cannot report you to the USCIS.
If you cannot afford to pay an attorney, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal aid. Contact the nearest legal services office or an immigration organization. Please, go to our National Organizations Immigration page. In many states, Catholic Charities may be able to provide you with legal assistance relating to immigration. Go to the Catholic Charities website and search for the contact information in your state. Note: You do not have to be Catholic to receive their assistance.
You will also see a list of legal services offices on the Advocates and Shelters page for your state on this website.