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Asylum Interview Schedule to Prioritize Newer Applications


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the agency will begin to schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings. Beginning on January 29, the Asylum Division will give priority to the most recently filed affirmative asylum applications when scheduling asylum interviews. The changes were made in an attempt to curb the growth of the agency’s backlog of asylum requests.

The interview scheduling approach was first implemented in 1999 as part of a series of reforms laid out by USCIS’ predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This scheduling approach was left in place until December of 2014.The goal of the reforms was to deter individuals from using asylum backlogs to obtain employment authorization by filing frivolous, fraudulent asylum applications that have no merit.

USCIS is responsible for overseeing the nation’s legal immigration system, which includes adjudicating asylum claims. As of Jan. 21, 2018, the agency was facing a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases. This substantial backlog is making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. Furthermore, the backlog has grown by more than 1750 percent over the past five years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.

The new approach that USCIS is using will allow them to decide on qualified applications in a more efficient manner. To address the backlog, USCIS will follow these priorities when scheduling affirmative asylum interviews:

  • Priority One: Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS
  • Priority Two: Applications pending 21 days or less since filing
  • Priority Three: All other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back toward older filings

It is important to note that workload priorities related to border enforcement might affect USCIS’s ability to schedule new applications for an interview within 21 days.

Are you having difficulty scheduling your asylum interview? We can help. Contact our Dallas team of immigration attorneys to schedule your case evaluation today.