Asylum Updates In 2019: What to Expect in The New Year

By Attorney Nadia Khalid

As of January 2019, hundreds of affirmative asylum applications remain, to this day, without an interview after being pending anywhere from 1-3 years. If this situation describes you, here are some important updates, as of 2019, that are helpful for you to keep in mind:

  1. Government Shut Down: Even though the government shut down lasted most of the month of January in 2019, asylum offices across the United States remained open and in service.
  2. Last in, First Out: Last in, First Out (“LIFO”) is still being practiced by asylum offices across the U.S. This means that the more recent an application is filed, the more priority it is given to get an interview. However, not all applications that are filed recently receive an interview. There is a percentage of 15-20% of cases that are filed during LIFO, but that do not receive an interview. These cases automatically go into the asylum office’s backlog and remain there. As far as we know, the asylum office has not started working on their backlog of cases yet.
  3. I filed my asylum application one month ago; how come I don’t have any interview yet even though LIFO is in effect? If you do not hear back from the asylum office within 6 weeks, your case has been moved to the backlog of pending asylum applications.
  4. I filed my asylum application before LIFO; how come I don’t have an interview? All applications filed before 01/29/2018 are considered “last priority”. First priority is rescheduled interviews; second is cases pending 21 days or less; third is all pending new filings working backwards.
  5. Had an interview, but no decision? If you’ve been lucky enough to get an interview at an asylum office, but still have not received a decision, you should begin filing inquiries after the 6-month mark of waiting with no decision.
  6. Out of status for over a year: If you have been out of status for over year and you file an affirmative asylum application with an asylum office in the United States, some asylum offices will begin to give you the option to waive your asylum interview at an asylum office and take your process straight to court.
  7. I want to expedite my interview: Several applicants request expedites for their interviews because they are frustrated with waiting for an interview. As far as the Houston Asylum Office is concerned, their expedited short list is full as of January 2019. However, the Houston Asylum Office still encourages applicants to submit expedite requests with supporting documents via email. Supporting documents include proof of urgency; an updated statement; and/or proof of imminent danger to your family in the country of persecution. They can be reached at: [email protected].

At the end of the day, there is only so much you and your attorney can do to get you an interview from the asylum office. The asylum office controls which interviews to issue and it also controls which applications go into their backlog. The best advice an applicant can get is to file compelling expedite requests with persuasive and strong supporting documents affirming the urgency for why they should be issued an interview. If you are interested in learning more about asylum processes, feel free to contact our office at 713-589-2085 or email us at [email protected] to set up a consultation.

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