Delayed Decisions After Asylum Interview

The USCIS has more than 20K asylum cases without decisions. This means that applicants have had interviews but did not get their decisions yet. There are a few types of Asylum decisions:

  • Grant of Asylum (the applicant and his/her family members who are in the USA and were included in the applicant’s case receive Asylee status).
  • Referral to an Immigration Court (Immigration officer was not able to grant Asylum and referred the case to the Immigration Court for further consideration).
  • Recommended Approval (was before August 25, 2020, and meant the officer was ready to grant Asylum but was waiting for the applicant’s background check).
  • Intent to Deny (the applicant receives the notice from the USCIS where the officer explains the reason(s) of such notice. The applicant has 16 days to respond and/or provide evidence-based on his/her case. If the officer does not get the response on time, the officer can make the final decision).
  • Final Denial (This one relates to the previous – Intent to Deny decision. If the officer does not receive the additional documents or information from the applicant, or this information does not cover the reasons, the officer makes the Final Denial decision).

There are some reasons for delays. First of all, the number of people who apply for Asylum increase every year, and the number of officers remains the same or maybe increases as well, but not as many as applicants do. After each interview, the supervisor has to review the case as well. Obviously, there are not so many supervisors to be able to complete revisions quickly.  Secondly, a case where one officer conducts the interview and later on this officer is terminated, in which instance another officer is supposed to make a decision based on the case and the previous officer’s notes. Sometimes, in this case, the applicant receives a new interview notice but with a different officer. Another reason for the delay can be the fingerprint check, so-called, background check. When applicants apply for asylum, they are scheduled for fingerprint appointments. It is possible that the officer does not get the results on time and that is why this officer cannot make a decision without it. A background check means that the applicant’s information is verified in the government database, different agencies, and checking criminal records. 

What can the applicant do to expedite the process? The applicant can talk to his/her attorney and ask the attorney to submit a request to the USCIS. In this case, the USCIS may reply that they need more time to review the case and issue their decision later or may send back the decision. Sometimes to get the decision takes a long time – 1 month to a few years. It all depends on the state, city, and case by itself. During all this period the applicant can apply or renew the employment authorization card (EAD) if he/she is eligible. 

*For informational use only.

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