For the first time, the asylum office of USCIS has issued a scheduling bulletin. The bulletin provides insight into the timing and delays associated with the processing of affirmative asylum cases by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.
The asylum division of USCIS has prioritized the processing of cases and now proceeds in the following manner:
- Applications that were scheduled for interview and then rescheduled due to either the applicant’s request or the request of USCIS;
- Applications involving minor children; and,
- First come, first-served, i.e., in the chronological order in which they were received.
In the bulletin, USCIS also provides data on which cases are currently being processed. This is a good step towards greater accountability from the asylum office. One of the biggest complaints that we receive from our clients is that asylum interviews take a very long time and that USCIS does a poor job of communicating regarding the delays.
USCIS promises to update the asylum scheduling bulletin every month. It reveals that these cases are taking a very long time to be scheduled for interview. For instance, the Chicago Asylum office is currently scheduling interviews for applications filed in May of 2013, more than 2 years ago. And cases are rarely decided on the date of the interview. We have cases in which the interview occurred in early 2014 that still have not been decided.
This is a good first step towards greater transparency, but something must be done to speed up these cases. USCIS has been hiring additional officers, but the delays continue.