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Asylum: How An Address May Impact The Result Of Your Case

Author: Asylum attorney Alena Shautsova

Asylum process in the United States may be classified into two big groups: an affirmative asylum process and a defensive asylum process.

The first one is happening when an applicant filed for asylum without being in removal/deportation proceedings. In this case, it is USCIS Asylum office that would have jurisdiction over a person’s case.

The defensive asylum process takes place when a person files for asylum after being placed in removal proceedings, and instead of an asylum officer, a judge would decide one’s application.

According to TRAC immigration , a non-for-profit that tracks the results of asylum applications based on various factors, the likelihood of a “win” of an asylum case differs with geographical locations and various Immigration judges. For example, according to TRAC, a judge in Bloomington, denies 97.2% of all asylum claims filed before him, while a judge in New York, grands 97.8% of all the applications he considers. It is not difficult to conclude that in an Immigration court, a chance to win of asylum’ case looks more like a Russian roulette: depending on a judge assign to one’s case, it would be either a “hit” or a “miss.”

Despite this, one cannot really choose where he/she would end up. A person has to file their case and will be assigned to a judge from a district he/she resides in.

The same is true for the affirmative process. If one resides in Buffalo, his case cannot be considered in Florida. The case would be “started” in an asylum office that has jurisdiction over the person’s place of residence. Of course, it is possible to change the that place, but only if the applicant moves to a different jurisdiction.

Now, when an applicant for asylum moves, he/she has to inform about the change of address USCIS via AR11 form and an asylum office that has jurisdiction over the case. If the applicant is in immigration court, a form C33 has to be filed with a motion to change venue. Generally speaking, such requests and motions are freely granted.

Now comes an important part: when one files for change of address and jurisdiction, his/her asylum employment clock stops, and it will be very difficult to restart it. It means that if one moves within 180 days of filing of his/her asylum application, he/she risks not to receive the employment authorization while the claim for asylum is being processed (which may take years and years). I should say that recently, the situation with the EAD asylum clock has improved, and it is easier to convince the officers to “fix” the clock in case it was stopped and was not restarted after the delay ceased to exist, but moving within 180 days may still impact the timing of EAD’s receipt significantly.

15 December 2016
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