Why do asylum based Green Card cases take so long?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We have a lot of people contact us at least about once a week or every other week.
These are people who have been granted asylum in the United States and have applied for a Green Card, and their Green Card case is taking forever. Let’s talk about a scenario that I had the other day with Fahad.
I have a consult with a fellow named Fahad. Fahad is originally from Iraq. Fahad got asylum in the United States about four years ago, his case went through the asylum office and therefore, he was eligible one year later, to apply for a green card.
He did, and now his Green Card case has been pending for three and a half years and he’s wondering why in the heck is this taking so long?
We also see this happen as well when asylum is granted by the immigration judge. In fact, we see these delays more often when the asylum was granted at the Immigration Court, as opposed to the asylum office.
I think there are several reasons for this; the first reason is that sometimes when you apply for that Green Card, it takes USCIS a while to get the file from the asylum office.
And so, up until very recently, there was a very, very strict barrier between the asylum office and regular USCIS. Asylum cases are treated differently, they’re supposed to be secret and confidential, so frontline USCIS officers did not always have access to the asylum cases. And so now, I’m reasonably sure that USCIS has changed directive so that if you apply for a Green Card based on asylum, they are now required to go track down the old asylum case.
And sometimes people wait more than that year, so it can be a while for USCIS to actually get the asylum case. But I don’t think that’s really the true source of the delay.
I think the real source of the delay is that barrier in that, when you apply for a Green Card having received asylum in the United States, either from the judge or the asylum office, USCIS views it as their first opportunity to review you and to inquire as to whether or not you are eligible and admissible for a Green Card for a lawful permanent resident status.
And of course, we know that the current administration right now is very anti-asylum and so they are not only just looking for whether or not these asylum grantees should be given a Green Card, they’re also scratching their head and saying, well, wait a minute, is there something in the asylum case that can either help us deny the Green Card or is there something that we could even go further and try to take away the asylum?
That’s what’s really going on, is there’s this whole other level of scrutiny. It’s not, oh boy, do we think Fahad should get his Green Card, it’s, oh boy, do we think we can find something in Fahad’s asylum case to keep him from getting his Green Card?
Or is there something in Fahad’s asylum case that we could go back and try to undo his asylum? We’ve been all these things happening lately, so these are real possibilities. I don’t say this to freak people out, I say it to explain to you why you’re seeing these delays and why you’re seeing craziness and strange things happening with these Green Card applications.
We’ve been filing a lot of lawsuits for people who were given asylum in the United States and then have their Green Card cases awaiting. Some of these have gone very quickly, some of these people have gotten their Green Card right away, some people have gotten their interviews right away.
So, a lawsuit might be one of your best tricks in trying to push a delayed Green Card case when that Green Card is based on asylum.
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