New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Average Time For Asylum Interview

Author: New York Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

The average time for one to be called for an interview after submission of asylum application is approximately 20-24 months. However, to be more precise, the time depends largely on the jurisdiction and certain other circumstances, but in general, 20-24 months would be a fair estimate.

The interview is scheduled on first come first serve basis by a computer (that is what USCIS says). According to the rules, the interview should be scheduled within 60 days of submission of asylum application. However, it is rarely the case. Recently, the number of the asylum applications caused significant backlogs in almost every jurisdiction.

How are interviews scheduled among those applications that are filed on the same date? Are there any priorities?

  • The highest priority goes to previous asylum Interviewee’s who had a need to reschedule their cases;
  • Second priority goes to minors submitting asylum applications
  • The Third and most common priority goes to all other adults filing asylum.

Most people will fall into the third category for asylum priorities for the scheduling of their interview. It means that thousands of applicants at some point “compete” for the dates, and here are some tips on how to avoid delays.

The first thing to do would be avoiding submission of incomplete or illegible forms. An incomplete application is always rejected causing sometimes, significant delays.

The second most common mistake is mailing insignificant amount of copies. Each applicant must submit one original and two copies of the package; plus an extra copy of each dependent.

Finally, another mistake that many make is to move the case from one jurisdiction to another. Often, during the move, the case gets lost or significantly delays the adjudication process. Also, a request to change venue affects one’s chances of receiving an employment authorization.

Is it possible to expedite the scheduling of the interview?

If for example your case is not scheduled within the average time frame and you wish to expedite the process first, consult with an attorney. The methods described below are not recommended for pro se applicants and should be done in the order in which they are described (Asylum applications in general are not recommended to be filed pro se (or without an attorney) to begin with).

1. You may request to be placed on the “Short List” when someone does not show up for their scheduled interview the USCIS will call individuals giving extremely short notice sometimes only a few days before the open and available date (Not recommended, but nonetheless an option to consider).

2. A formal request to expedite can be taken into consideration, this is usually granted when there is a good reason for expediting the request (in other words it will not be considered just because you want to get your interview over with). For example, medical necessities that would prevent the applicant or witness from testifying at a later date (such as memory loss, witness becomes severely ill, etc.) may serve as a good reason.

3. If a request to expedite is not granted, the DHS Ombudsman’s Office may help to expedite the case if the expedition has valid merit to it.

4. Local Congressman – even though you technically are not a constituent of the Congressman (or Congresswoman) yet, if granted Asylum status, and later Citizenship, you will be! Your local Congressman and his staff if partial to the cause and sympathetic to your plight will help and can put pressure on USCIS to expedite the case.

01 September 2015
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