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Asylum – Wait Times

by Ally Bolour | Jul 30, 2020

Vast Differences in Asylum Wait Times

In January 2018 USCIS changed its policy on scheduling interviews for affirmative asylum applications.  Their current policy is to schedule for interviews, applications that were filed the most recently – referred to as the “last in, first out” rule.  Previously the agency would interview cases in the order in which they came. The result has been two vastly different experiences for asylum applicants.

Applicants today in the Los Angeles area can file for asylum and expect an interview within a month or two.  The benefits of such a system are obvious – adjudicate cases quickly where there is little need for updated country conditions and when, ideally, the applicant’s memory is closer in time to the events of fleeing their native country and therefore, more accurate.

The consequence of this new system?  Those who filed at the height of the current backlog, who were already waiting years for an interview when the policy change occurred, can expect to continue waiting for their interview even longer.  This can have negative effects on an asylum application – country conditions can change and the applicant’s memory can fade.  But the personal toll can be much worse – people fleeing their countries are stuck in limbo for years due to no fault of their own.  Time where they could be accruing years as a lawful permanent resident to eventually become a citizen are delayed.  Due to the simple fact that they lack permanent status it is difficult, if not impossible, to build strong roots in their community or with an employer because they cannot say for certainty whether they will be able to lawfully remain in the U.S.

During these long wait times, it is important to remain in contact with your immigration attorney and update him or her on any events that may effect your immigration status.  For example, marriage to a U.S. citizen could make adjustment of status a possibility even with the pending asylum case.

If you need advice on an asylum application, reach out to our offices for a consultation.

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