New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Asylum Interview: Current Scheduling Times

Author: US Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

In early 2018, DHS changed drastically its practices related to the scheduling of asylum interviews. If previously an applicant for asylum could stay in line for the interview for years, nowadays more than 50% of cases are scheduled for the interview within 43 days of the filing dates. It means that those who filed their cases prior to January 2018 are likely to stay in line even longer.

This is how currently US Asylum office schedules interviews:

  • First priority: Applications that were scheduled for an interview but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;
  • Second priority: Applications that have been pending 21 days or less since filing;
  • Third priority: All other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.
  • Workload priorities, including those related to border enforcement, may affect our ability to schedule all new applications for an interview within 21 days.

    Is it possible to expedite the interview date?

    Many who “got stuck” in line for an interview are worried about their family members who they intend to bring to the US (if the case is won). For example, those family members can be children under 21 years old and spouses. Often, such applicants would like to expedite their interview date. Asylum office directors may consider, on a case-by-case basis, a request to be scheduled for an interview outside of the priority order listed above. Any urgent interview scheduling requests have to be submitted in writing to the asylum office with jurisdiction over one’s case. To that request, one should attach evidence confirming the urgency: recent country conditions, personal circumstances, health issues, etc.

    Important points regarding Asylum interview:

    1. An asylum applicant who needs an interpreter is required to arrange for an interpreter. It means that the Asylum office will not provide an interpreter. An Interpreter must be an individual with the sufficient knowledge of English and foreign language. The individual does not need to be in “legal” status, but his identity needs to be verifiable.

    2. An applicant for asylum can bring to the interview any number of witnesses to testify in support of the application, including expert witnesses. However, an asylum officer may limit their testimony.

    3. An attorney at the interview may not testify for a client, but may clarify points, especially legally points and make a closing statement if it is appropriate.

    4. As a rule, an asylum applicant will not be permitted to take or to refer to notes during the interview.

    If you have questions regarding the asylum process, please schedule an appointment by calling 917-885-2261 or emailing at office@shautsova.com.

    04 October 2018
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