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Affirmative Asylum Backlog

The USCIS website states that in most cases, asylum applicants will receive an interview notice within 21 days after mailing a complete Form I-589 to USCIS (see http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum/affirmative-asylum-process). An asylum client recently called me because he was worried that he had not received an interview notice after 21 days of filing his Form I-589. I emailed the Houston asylum office where my client’s case is pending and their response was that:

“USCIS schedules asylum interviews as soon as resources permit. Currently, our resources are stretched, as the USCIS Asylum Division has received a significant increase in all caseloads over the last several years, which has led to longer processing times for the affirmative asylum caseload. To address the increased workload, we are currently in the process of hiring and training additional personnel.”

According to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, USCIS Asylum Headquarters does not expect the numbers to improve until at least the end of the current fiscal year. So, if your asylum case has been pending for some time, keep in mind that there is currently a backlog for asylum cases and it could take a couple of months to get an interview date. I know it is frustrating to wait for your interview date, but also keep in mind that if 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND no decision has been made on your application, you can apply for employment authorization.

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