Asylum Trends in 2018: The Importance of Seeking an Experienced Asylum Attorney

Posted on by Carlos Gutierrez in Asylum, Blog from Other Experts, Immigration Law Leave a comment

By: Nadia Khalid, Attorney at Powers Law Group

In the ever-changing world of U.S. Immigration Policy, the Powers Law Group has seen a dramatic change in the approach and enforcement of asylum law and asylum interviews.  Asylum offices across the United States are backlogged and over-burdened by a high volume of asylum applications, lack of sufficient resources, and new policy directives issued at an unpredictable pace. As a result, as of January 2018, the Asylum Division changed its interview approach from first-in first-out to last-in first-out. This means that all asylum applications filed after January 2018 are receiving an interview date of about 5-6 weeks after receipt of application.

While this seems efficient in theory, the result has been a little chaotic:

  • Interviews are being conducted at a more rapid pace, with some asylum offices double booking asylum interviews on the chance that the applicant is late, takes too long to go through security, or is a no-show;
  • The officer interviewing you is not always prepared;
  • The officer does not always have your full submission; or, even if they have it, they have not always reviewed it;
  • Some officers do not want or have time to read secondary submissions, such as supplementary evidence, making the applicant’s initial application and initial submission the most important; and
  • Asylum officers are not always familiar with your country conditions.

While it is a positive to receive an asylum interview so quickly, this positive is accompanied by a high burden of preparation and proof on the part of the applicant.  Given this overwhelming backlog, asylum officers have begun flagging applicant testimony in two major ways:

  1. Inconsistencies: the first easiest way for officers to streamline their interviews is to look for inconsistencies in your story and the proof you provided. This means that even if the officer has not reviewed a document that you provided which corroborates your story, the applicant needs to be quick in providing a copy of that record during the interview so that the officer can look over it at the same time.
  2. Any Relation to Violence: the second easiest way to make a decision is to ask about any violent or criminal history. Violence can extend, by inference, to mandatory military training, so it is important to be prepared to answer the purpose of the military training and the applicant’s role in it.

The short of these new asylum trends is this: have an attorney.  More than ever, it is important to have a lawyer prepare your asylum application, submit your asylum application, and most importantly be present during the interview. The help of legal counsel affords applicant’s extra security in ensuring that all of what they provided is flagged for the officer during the interview, that the officer provides fair questioning to the applicant, and to explain intricate country conditions, among other reasons.

At the Powers Law Group, our attorneys have attended asylum interviews in Houston (TX), Boston (MA), Newark (NJ), Arlington (VA), and New Orleans (LA). Our firm has offices in Houston, TX and Newark, NJ.

Contact us by phone at (713) 589-2085 or by email at contact@rubypowerslaw.com for further questions or advice.

Given the unpredictable pace of new policy directives, it is important to find strong legal support to help you navigate this important process and help tell your story. Together, we can be prepared for the changing face of asylum.

 


A Recent Case Holds that Asylum Applications Can Be Filed After the One-Year Deadline

Posted on by Carlos Gutierrez in Asylum, Blog from Other Experts, Immigration Law Leave a comment

Under U.S. law, you must file within one year of your last entry into the United States in order to remain eligible for asylum. However, there are certain exceptions that may allow you to file after one year, such as the existence of changed or extraordinary circumstances that can affect an individual’s eligibility for asylum.

In a recent case Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash) the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that the failure to provide individuals with reasonable notice of the one-year asylum application deadline violates the original Congressional intent, which was meant to ensure that individuals with viable asylum claims  receive proper notice.

The case involved a group of individuals who alleged that the practices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) infringed on their statutory and regulatory rights to apply for asylum and, as a result, violated their rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment.

The group represented argued that because DHS failed to notify them of the one-year filing deadline, DHS effectively reduced the cumulative time allowed in the filing period, even though this was not the original intent of Congress.

The Court agreed and found that failure to provide notice of the one-year application period violated the Congressional intent behind the deadline.  The Court further ordered that DHS must provide notice of the asylum filing deadline to all class members that are currently detained and not released prior to the time the individuals are released from custody.

In a political climate that is very uncertain, this is a great victory for potential asylum-seekers because it emphasizes that due process of the law must be enforced and observed by immigration officials, many of whom are the first formal officials asylum-seekers encounter upon their entry into the United States.

April 6, 2018 | By Law Clerk, Cynthia Millian | Powers Law Group


USCIS Reminds Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone of May 21 Termination

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Blog from Other Experts Leave a comment

USCIS is reminding the public that the designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone terminate effective May 21, 2017.

To provide sufficient time for an orderly transition, the Department of Homeland Security gave beneficiaries under these three designations 8 months advance notice of the expiration by publishing 3 notices in the Federal Register on Sept. 22, 2016 (one for each country). These notices urged individuals who did not have another immigration status to use the time before the terminations became effective in May to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.

Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting May 21, 2017, TPS beneficiaries will continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS. Individuals with no other lawful immigration status on May 21, 2017, will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization based on TPS.

TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents issued under the Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone designations are only valid through May 20, 2017, and will not be renewed or extended.

After reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer support their designations for TPS. The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended.

Additional information about TPS is available at uscis.gov/tps. For more information about USCIS, visit uscis.gov or follow on Twitter (@uscis),  YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis), and Instagram(/uscis).

Read the full article in USCIS


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