New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Asylum Interview: How long is the Wait?

Author: US Asylum attorney Alena Shautsova

Many asylum applicants are concerned with the timeline for the affirmative asylum process. It is used to be the case that after an asylum application was filed affirmatively, an applicant could have expected to be called for an interview within a couple of months after the filing date. However, within the recent years, it is impossible to predict when an asylum applicant will be called for interview: for some applicants it happens as soon as a month after their fingerprints were taken, and some have to wait for over a year to get called to testify about their claims.

What is the reason for long wait for asylum interview?

Apparently, according to the USCIS, the reason is why some people have to wait months and years for their asylum interview is that the number of asylum applications increased dramatically within the recent years, and the Asylum Office simply could not cope with all of them. That is why many cases got stuck in a "backlog". At the same time, according to the USCIS, some applicants are called within the supposed 60 -day timeframe. There is no magic to it. It is just random luck.

Can one’s attorney expedite the case?

An attorney can try. The USCIS explicitly said that requests to expedite an asylum interview can be filed with the local asylum office and will be considered, but due to the high volume of such requests, only a few will be granted.

Can one change the jurisdiction / state to expedite the interview?

One may defiantly try. But here is a caveat: first, by filing the change of address form with the asylum office that has jurisdiction over one’s case, the requester is slowing down the process, and as a result, his or her EAD clock will stop until they appear for an interview in a different state. Second, it takes time for the offices to transfer and to receive a case. So, by asking an asylum office to change the location of the interview, an applicant is pretty sure to loose time than to win it. Finally, one may not engage in what is called a “forum shopping”: trying to change an interview location hoping for a result better than in the original forum. However, one should be filing a notice of change of address and a request to change the location of the interview if he or she moved and established residence in some other state.

What to do if one is tired of waiting and would like to withdraw asylum application?

If this is the case, a person must do it in writing. If she is planning to leave the country, she should also provide a copy of her ticket to avoid being placed in removal proceedings. If she just leaves the country and abandons her application, a removal order in absentia may be issued against her.

What are the dangers of the backlog?

The most serious consequence of the backlog, of course, is a change in country conditions so dramatic that would nullify someone’s asylum claim. Usually, once the status is granted, the USCIS does not take it back even If the country conditions improved so much that the applicant would not face risk should she return back home. However, if the country conditions change between the time of the application and the time of adjudication of asylum claim, an applicant might be denied the benefit sought. The delay likewise causes prolonged separation of family members who cannot see each other due to travel restrictions and inability to unite in the US. An asylum applicant can apply for advance parole and travel to a third country, but in each case, she should consult with an attorney before leaving the US.

If you have asylum questions, call US asylum attorney in New York: Alena Shautsova 917-885-2261

07 April 2014
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