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Your Guide to the CBP One App for Asylum Seekers

Why Use the CBP One App?

Using the CBP One App to Schedule an Appointment

Immigration reform is a process that often moves slowly, but technology has the ability to make some parts of the process move faster. The CBP One app can be a useful tool for people seeking residency in the United States. Here’s what you should know before you approach the border and how to use the app to request asylum in the US.

What Is the CBP One App?

The CBP One app is a free mobile phone application provided by United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). The app can be used for several types of immigration at the border of the United States and Northern Mexico. 

The app has features for I-94 recipients to announce their arrival and for travelers to pre-request inspection of agricultural or biological materials upon arrival. One of the most important features of the app allows asylum seekers to request an interview prior to arrival at the southern border of the United States.

Why Should I Use the CBP One App?

Customs and Border Protection requests that every migrant seeking asylum at the United States and Mexico border uses the CBP One app to seek prior approval before arrival. Although this adds a few more steps to the process, there may be some advantages to seeking pre-approval.

Using the App Is Safer Than Traveling 

The journey to the Southern Border of the United States can be dangerous, especially if trekked or hiked. There are few resources between Northern Mexico and the southern United States. It’s a desert climate without any food or water, and the terrain is rough and risky to travel on foot.

Migrants who make the journey often arrive at the United States border dehydrated, starving, and in need of medical intervention. 

A significant number of migrants die attempting to cross the United States border. This includes plenty of migrants with good intentions who approached on foot but were unable to locate a point of entry.

Over 800 confirmed migrants lost their lives attempting the journey in 2022, but the real total may be much higher. Simply requesting asylum status and receiving a scheduled interview at a point of entry can make the journey much safer. You’ll know exactly where to go and who to talk to, meaning you’ll be expected and safely received. 

Pre-Approval Reduces the Chances You’ll Be Turned Away

It takes time for immigrant officials to review and process requests for asylum. They’re unlikely to have the time to gather your information and complete paperwork with you if you arrive at the border unannounced. It’s much more likely they’ll turn you away, detain you, and even ban you from attempting to re-apply for asylum.

The CBP One app gives you an opportunity to be approved for a meeting at a port of entry. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll be granted asylum, but it increases the chances that your case will be properly reviewed. You also avoid the potential consequences of showing up unannounced or attempting to become a U.S. resident without approval. There are no consequences for being denied asylum after a proper interview. You’re simply asked to return home. 

What Happens If You Approach the Border Without Using the CBP One App?

Border patrol officers are attempting to significantly limit the number of people approaching the United States border without a valid visa or an appointment. In order to dissuade walk-ups and people who may be attempting to become a resident without proper paperwork, they’ve imposed consequences for failure to use the CBP One app.

Presenting yourself at the United States border seeking asylum without an appointment or a visa can result in immigrants being turned away. In some cases, it can result in migrants being denied the potential for future residency. It’s important to follow proper protocol when seeking residency in the United States.

Is the CBP One App Easy To Use?

The CBP One app was an ambitious effort that was intended to make the process of seeking asylum easier, but many migrants find that it doesn’t work the way it was intended to work. Many migrants struggle attempting to use the app, claiming that slow loading times and glitches make it extremely difficult to reserve an interview spot at the border.

The app only works in certain parts of Northern and Central Mexico. It uses your phone’s location service to pinpoint your location and will only allow you to access services if you’re within specific geographical parameters. 

Ease of access also poses a significant problem. Many people seeking asylum are not financially advantaged. They may not have a smartphone, and even if they do, they might not be able to afford the data plan necessary to use its features. Since the app is wrought with glitches and bugs, older smartphone models may not be able to access it at all. Older phones that can successfully use the phone are unlikely to be fast enough to grab a coveted interview spot before they’re all taken. 

There have also been reports of criminals and extortionists using high-tech equipment to claim all of the interview spots and attempt to sell them to desperate asylum seekers at astronomically high prices. 

Customs and Border Protection claims to be interested in resolving major flaws with the app and app-based immigration system, but they have yet to release a significant update or serious plan to address or fix its glaring issues.

How To Use the CBP One App

To use the CBP One App, you must be located in Northern Mexico. It will not work outside of the region. You must be able to prove that you’ve sought asylum in other countries before attempting to seek asylum in the United States. This is an eligibility requirement with very few exceptions.

The CBP One app is available in both English and Spanish. After downloading the app and selecting your preferred language, you’ll move through the prompts. If you select the option for asylum seekers, you’ll be prompted to input basic information. The app may require you to take a photograph of your passport or legal identification. 

A maximum of 1,000 interview slots are posted daily, usually at the same time. The spots are taken very quickly. If you’d like to secure a spot, you need to be ready and waiting for the interview slots to become available. 

If you receive an appointment, you’ll need to present yourself at a participating point of entry at the designated time. Your meeting will be at one of seven participating points of entry:

    • Nogales, Arizona
    • Brownsville, Texas
    • Eagle Pass, Texas
    • El Paso, Texas
    • Hidalgo, Texas
    • Calexico, California
    • San Ysidro, California

What Happens If You’re Late for Your Meeting?

If you don’t arrive on time for your meeting, you’ll lose your spot, and you’ll need to wait for another interview. If you do arrive on time, you’ll be inspected by border patrol officers. They will interview you and determine if you have a claim for asylum at the border.

Asylum laws are very strict and often grow increasingly more complicated with each revision of the law. Although they offer 1,000 interview slots a day, Customs and Border Patrol seldom allow any of the interviewees to cross into the United States. An interview is not a guarantee that you’ll be granted asylum. 

If you appear to have a claim for asylum, Customs and Border Patrol will ask you for more information and help you move through the next steps of the process. If you are not eligible for asylum, you’ll be turned away after your appointment. 

Do You Need Help Immigrating to the United States?

It’s very difficult to pursue asylum in the United States successfully. Although the CBP One app was made with the best of intentions, most migrants feel as though the app causes more problems than it solves. Customs and Border Protection currently does not have a plan to resolve the issues with the app and streamline the process of seeking asylum via the Internet. 

If you need the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney when seeking asylum in the United States, the law team at Cohen, Tucker + Ades may be able to help. We’re experienced at interpreting immigration law and assisting with asylum cases. Contact us for a consultation to review the details of your case. We’ll explore your immigration options and help you find the best method for your unique situation.


CBP One™ Mobile Application | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

At least 853 migrants died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in past 12 months — a record high | CBS News

Migrants struggle with how to use CBP One app | Rest of World

New Report Reveals Evidence of Additional Restrictions, Metering, and Lack of Information under “Asylum Ban” Rule | International Rescue Committee


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