On January 31, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings. The new process is an attempt resolve the growth of the agency’s asylum backlog.
USCIS oversees the country’s immigration system, this includes adjudicating application claims for asylum. Currently, there is a backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases that need to be reviewed by the agency. Unfortunately, the backlog of asylum claims has made the system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and other abuses.
According to USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna, “Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate asylum seekers. Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”
The backlog has actually increased by more than 1750% in the last 5 years, while the rate of new claims for asylum has tripled.
USCIS will be using the following priorities to schedule affirmative asylum interviews:
- First Priority: Applicants who were scheduled for an interview, but had to reschedule at their own request or to meet the needs of USCIS
- Second Priority: Applicants with claims pending 21 days or less since their filing
- Third Priority: All other pending applicants, beginning with the newer claims and working back toward older filings
It should be noted that workload priorities related to border enforcement can impact USCIS’s ability to schedule new applications for an interview within 21 days. In addition to this, the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin issued by USCIS has been discontinued.
The priority approach to asylum applications was first used in 1995 and lasted until 2014. The approach was intended to deter applicants who might try to use the existing backlog as a way to secure employment authorization. Returning to this approach will help USCIS identify frivolous or fraudulent asylum claims earlier and place applicants who do not meet requirements into removal proceedings.
For more information about scheduling an asylum interview, visit the Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling page.
Do you have more questions about seeking asylum? Need help with your application? Contact our Cleveland immigration attorneys to schedule your consultation today.