USCIS Adjusts Asylum Processing Queue – “Last in First Out” Now in Effect
In an important announcement affecting over 300,000 Asylum Applicants, USCIS will now prioritize adjudicating recently-filed Asylum cases over those already pending.
As of January 31, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings, in an attempt to deal with the growth of the immigration agency’s asylum backlog.
To address the backlog, USCIS will follow these priorities when scheduling affirmative asylum interviews:
- Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled;
- Applications pending 21 days or less since submission to USCIS; and
- All other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back toward older filings.
USCIS has stated that it believes prioritizing cases in this way is more beneficial to legitimate asylum seekers rather than those filing solely for the purpose of receiving work authorization.
This priority approach is a reversion to an approach first established by the asylum reforms of 1995 and used for 20 years until 2014. Additionally, the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin issued by USCIS has been discontinued. Those most hurt by the announcement are the applicants whose applications were filed years ago (sometimes 3-4 years ago) and will now continue to be at the back of the line waiting for their interview, as new filings will be prioritized.
Individuals considering filing for Asylum in the U.S. need to work with their attorney to ensure the application is as strong as possible upon initial filing as there will no longer be numerous years in which to collect additional evidence of the fear of persecution in one’s home country.