USCIS to schedule asylum interviews for newest filings first

ON January 31, 2018, USCIS announced a change in policy for scheduling affirmative asylum interviews.  They will follow a “last in, first out” interview schedule, meaning the newest asylum applications will be pushed up to the front of the line and interviewed first.  The reason for this policy is to “identify frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum claims earlier and place those individuals into removal proceedings.”
Many out of status people were advised by consultants or notarios to apply for political asylum in order to get a work authorization.  (Eligibility for political asylum is based on a person’s claim of persecution in his home country, or fear of future persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion.  People who were not truly persecuted would make up stories that the NPA (or certain groups) was after them, etc. and file an asylum claim to get an immediate work authorization.)
Because there is a backlog of over 300,000 pending asylum cases, it might take years before they are finally interviewed concerning their claims of persecution in their home country.  In the meantime, these people were happy renewing their work authorizations each year.  But USCIS is tired of people taking advantage of the system by filing bogus asylum claims, solely to get work authorizations, and then relying on the tremendous backlogs to buy time: “Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”
To discourage these bogus asylum claims, the USCIS will now immediately interview newest asylum filings first, rather than putting them at the bottom of the pile.  In other words, they will start with the newest asylum filings, and work back towards older filings.
If you filed a political asylum application, prepare yourself for an asylum interview.  If the officer does not believe you were persecuted, your case will be denied, and you could be put in removal/deportation proceedings.  I would suggest you seek the advice of a reputable attorney who can evaluate your situation, including other possible legitimate avenues to legalize your status in the U.S. other than filing for asylum.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bar of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different. The information contained herein including testimonials, “Success Stories,” endorsements and re-enactments) is of a general nature, and is not intended to apply to any particular case, and does not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.
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Atty. Michael Gurfinkel
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