There are hundreds of thousands of people waiting a long time, even up to several years, to get an interview with a United States asylum officer. What’s more, the families of asylum seekers are oftentimes still in their home countries, waiting too. There are several ways to get the asylum process going much quicker and get a scheduled interview sooner. In this post we are going to cover how to expedite your asylum interview.
Asylum seekers can potentially expedite their asylum processing time by doing any of the following:
- Prove emergency circumstances
- Show proof of severe financial loss
- Prove a humanitarian crisis
- Request help from a U.S. House Representative or U.S. Senator
- Ask for assistance from an Ombudsman at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office
- Work with an immigration attorney
Check out this post if you are want to learn about preparing for your asylum interview.
Reason for Lengthy Asylum Processing Times
The amount of asylum applications in the queue is in the hundreds of thousands. Immigration courts and asylum offices are overwhelmed with the sheer number of asylum applications.
It takes time for the officers to process such volume, while treating each case with reasonable care.
Furthermore, the days of being processed in the “order in which they are received” are long gone. In 2018, the USCIS began processing applications most recently received, rather than prioritizing older ones. Meaning, they switched to the Last In, First Out (LIFO) method.
People who have applied for asylum in the U.S. may have urgent situations, therefore needing their case to be expedited. The asylum office may expedite cases which constitute “emergency circumstances,” provided the applicant has:
- A severe illness or a serious medical condition
- Someone relating to his or her case is severely ill, or has died
- An attorney, sponsor or legal representative has died
- A family member (who has legal U.S. permanent residency) has become severely ill or has died
- Family in their home country who is in immense danger
Severe Financial Loss
If an applicant has lawful work authorization and learns he or she must travel for their job, they could potentially be put in jeopardy if they are unable to travel (because of their pending asylum case.)
In this instance, the applicant would show “severe financial loss” would result if their request to expedite were denied - creating a forfeiture of public services or other critical benefits as an outcome.
According to the USCIS website, “A company can demonstrate that it would suffer a severe financial loss if it is at risk of failing, losing a critical contract, or having to lay off other employees.
For example, a medical office may suffer severe financial loss if a gap in a doctor’s employment authorization would require the medical practice to lay off its medical assistants.”
There are also urgent humanitarian reasons which could substantiate the applicant’s need for an expedient interview with an asylum officer. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- The applicant has a disability
- Extreme living conditions
- There is a critical need to travel for medical treatment in a short time frame
- The U.S. government wants to put the applicant in a witness protection program
- Compromised safety due to a breach of confidentiality (the interview isn’t expedited)
- Nonprofit organization, must be designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), where such request for expediting furthers the U.S. cultural or social interests
- Public safety or other national security interests
Help From a U.S. House Representative or U.S. Senator
The procedure for requesting assistance differs from one congressperson to another. However, asylum seekers can request help in expediting the asylum interview by first calling to ask if they are available to do so.
As immigration officers will do, staff members of the House Representatives or Senators will inquire about the nature of the applicant’s petition for asylum. They will also ask for supporting documents showing evidence of why the applicant’s case should be processed quicker than others in the same queue.
Assistance From an Ombudsman at the CIS
Located in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it is there where the Ombudsman can investigate as to why the delay has been so long. Though it is sometimes difficult, there is still a possibility applicants may get their asylum case processed more quickly.
Work With an Immigration Attorney
Asylum immigration attorneys are well-versed in asylum cases, and are able to help such applicants understand their chances of being granted asylum in the United States.
While having an attorney during any part of this process is not mandatory, they can often get the case to an adjudication more quickly.
Furthermore, attorneys work on behalf of the asylum applicant during the whole process. They ensure all documents are filled out correctly, properly submit applications, strive to see deadlines are met, and offer some peace of mind the case will be heard as well as handled correctly.
Also, immigration attorneys can sometimes put soft pressure on the asylum office to move the case forward more quickly.
Applicants should be aware, approved requests for expedited processing times does not mean their petition for asylum was granted.
While favorable results can occur if the asylum seeker’s application is expedited, urging the USCIS to speed up their case often brings detrimental consequences.
Pros and Cons of expediting your asylum interview
The pros of receiving a quicker refusal include the following:
- Denial of further work authorization
- Inability for continued work experience in the U.S.
- Immediate deportation
- The return to a dreadful environment
- Automatic denial of any future asylum application
Conversely, the cons of receiving a quicker approval include, but are not limited to:
- Quicker family reunification between spouses, parents, and children
- Medical benefits
- Access to other benefits
- No longer awaiting a decision by the USCIS or immigration judge
- Peace of mind
- A certain level of safety or protection from previously experienced persecution
Expedite Asylum Interview FAQs
If you have more questions about how to expedite your asylum interview, contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated lawyers.
Why is my asylum case taking so long?
One of the main reasons for the long wait time is there are more than 600,000 asylum applications pending. This type of backlog makes it challenging to get a timely response from the USCIS, however, it is the officers’ duty to proceed with due diligence in each case.
How can I speed up the Asylum process?
Theoretically, there are many ways to speed up the process. While each method poses its own difficulties, asylum seekers can submit their request (in writing) to the asylum office, or ask other people to do this for them. People like an immigration attorney, U.S. Senator or House Representative, Ombudsman, or other legal representatives.
Can I request expedite without an attorney?
Absolutely, those seeking asylum can submit such requests on their own. Having an attorney is not mandatory, whatsoever. Simply submit your request to expedite to your local asylum office. If you wish to find other free assistance, feel free to contact your state senator’s office, U.S. House Representative or Ombudsman. Furthermore, there are nonprofit (pro bono) attorneys who can represent either for free, or for a discounted fee.
How can I find more information about local representatives?
What type of documents are required to expedite my asylum case?
Such documents should indicate the reason you wish to request your interview to be expedited. This evidence could be letters from your employer or doctor, or from the government official who wants to place you in a witness protection program. Additionally, it could be documentation of a family member’s severe illness, dangerous environment or even of their death. (This family member can either be a lawful permanent U.S. resident or a family member in your home country.) Or, it could be documentation of your attorney’s death. Any supporting document which serves as proof of an emergency is sufficient.
Conclusion About How To Expedite Your Asylum Interview
While it is quite difficult to get an expedited interview, and though the USCIS grants such requests limitedly, there are always circumstances that necessitate certain cases to be expedited.
Asylum seekers can request expedited processing by proving they have either emergency circumstances, severe financial loss or a humanitarian crisis. This applies only to those whose application is pending with the USCIS (affirmative asylum), not to those in immigration court (defensive asylum).
If an applicant wishes to speed up the process, they can send their request straight to the asylum office, or they can request assistance from their respective U.S. House Representative, U.S. Senator, Ombudsman or attorney.
Like most official business, inquiries taken by phone will not be considered formal requests. The request to expedite must be in writing, must be made to the applicant’s local asylum office and must contain supporting evidence.