USCIS Started Processing Asylum Applications Prioritizing Those Recently Filed
On January 31, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings, in an attempt to stem the growth of the asylum backlog.
USCIS currently faces a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of January 21, 2018, making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse.
This backlog has grown by more than 1750% over the last five (5) years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.
According to USCIS, many asylum seekers try to use the existing backlog as a means to obtain employment authorization. Giving priority to recent filings will allow USCIS to promptly place such individuals into removal proceedings, which reduces the incentive to file for asylum solely to obtain employment authorization.
USCIS will now schedule asylum interviews in the following order of priority:
· First priority: Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS.
· Second priority: Applications that have been pending 21 days or less.
· Third priority: All other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.