Hurry Up and Lose My Case

by Jason Dzubow on February 19, 2014

If you asked my clients their number one complaint about me, it’s that they think I take too long to prepare and file their affirmative asylum cases. Conversely, if you asked me my number one complaint about my clients, it’s that they are always pushing me to file their cases as quickly as possible. Since this blog is written by me, and not by my clients, I can tell you unequivocally that I am right and they are wrong. Here’s why–

Going fast does not always get you the result you want.

Going fast does not always get you the result you want.

First and foremost, it takes time to properly prepare and file an asylum case. Even in a very strong case–and especially in a case with a lot of evidence–it is important to make sure that all the letters and documents are consistent. That translations are correct. That dates, which often use a different calendar, are properly converted to the Western calendar. That the dates in the asylum form match the dates in the affidavit, and that passports, visas, and other documents make sense with the client’s chronology as she remembers it. You would be surprised how often there are problems with dates, chronologies, and translations. In fact, it is the rare case that does not involve my staff or me finding major mistakes in the documents. While this is usually the result of carelessness on the part of the client or a witness, such errors can be fatal to an asylum case, where inconsistencies are often seen as evidence of fraud. There is simply no way around it, it takes time to review all this and put together a consistent and well-crafted application.

Second, any asylum attorney who is any good will probably be busy, especially if his prices are reasonable. Indeed, the only way to keep prices reasonable is to do these cases in bulk. Therefore, if you expect to pay a reasonable price for your case, you can probably expect to wait a bit to have it filed. In our office, it typically takes one to two months to prepare and file an affirmative asylum case. Although the cases do not need to be completely finished when we file (because we can submit supplemental material a week prior to the interview), they need to be mostly done. Why? Because the timing of interviews is unpredictable. The interview may not occur for two months (or more) after we file the application, but it might occur in four weeks. So if the case is not near completion at the time we file, we may not have time to properly finish it and review everything before the interview.

Finally, attorneys–you may be shocked to learn–are human. And humans make mistakes. When we rush, we tend to make more mistakes, and mistakes sometimes cause clients to lose their cases. When we have time to prepare a case, think about the facts and the law, strategize about how to resolve problems (and most cases have problems of one sort or another), research country conditions, and carefully review all the evidence, we minimize the chances for mistakes and maximize the odds of winning.

There are, of course, very legitimate reasons for wanting to file a case quickly–separation from family, stress, uncertainty, fear of being out of status, inability to work. Probably the most legitimate reason to file quickly is to meet the one-year asylum filing deadline (asylum applicants are required to file for asylum within one year of arrival in the United States; people who file after one year risk being ineligible for asylum). But as long as there is not a one-year issue, it is far better to take a few extra weeks to file a case correctly than to rush. In my humble (and correct) opinion, if you prioritize speed over winning, you are misplacing your priorities. If you lose your case, it will likely be referred to an Immigration Judge, which can easily take several years to resolve.

So take a breath. Relax. And take the time to do your case right. Going a bit slower at the beginning may save you a lot of time in the end.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dcc May 8, 2015 at 2:00 am

Hi Jason,

In 2012 I arrived in NYC after because of threats against my life because of my sexual orientation. Having limited money and knowledge of the county and fear of being illegal here i did my research and filed my asylum application on my own. Since receiving the conformation letter from USCIS that i may remain in the country until my case has been decided i have not heard from them since. Letters to the office have gone unanswered and the only reply i have received was to a change of address notice that was sent to them. I do have a social and a EAD which allows me to work but what are my options at this point?


Jason Dzubow May 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

Take a look at the posting I did on February 26, 2015. Thousands of people are in the same situation as you, and generally, there is very little you can do about it. Good luck, Jason


Salvatore February 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Hello Mr. Jason Dzubow,

I’d like to know if you think my asylum case is strong enough. I have been persecuted in the past. Some people beat and threatened me because of my political opinion, I have medical records and my psychologist’s statement. I’m currently in NY under a tourist visa. I left Venezuela on January 2015 and I should return before June 2015. I fear for my life, those people have sent me threatening letters and this situation scares me a lot. I hope you can help.


Jason Dzubow February 25, 2015 at 6:15 pm

If you want a real evaluation of your case, you need to talk to a lawyer. Past persecution makes a case stronger, but only if the persecution is “on account of” a protected ground (race, religion, nationality, particular social group, political opinion). It is worthwhile to consult with an attorney about whether you qualify. Good luck, Jason


Ghassan April 1, 2014 at 3:38 am

My question is about the decision period it take the U.S. government to reach a decision about the case, I know each case differs than the others !
I applied for asylum and got interviewed on Aug.21,2013, the immigration officer informed me that I will get the outcome after a week, now I completed 7 months, and still didn’t hear the decision yet! I’m worry that may be they reached a decision , but the u.s. postal office might lost the track of my immigration package! the difficulty I am facing is because I can not check the application status through the USCIS website because they didn’t include asylum cases in this service.
Will you please advice me what should I do, I am so confused because I don’t know how much it would take more than that! should I refer my case to the Congress man, or infopass ?
An attorney told me that if my case passed a year long, then there’s a way to speed up getting the outcome, unfortunately I lost the track of that attorney !!!
Any advices from you people is highly appreciated.

Kind regards,



Jason Dzubow April 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm

The best thing you can do is go to the Asylum Office in the morning and ask about the status of your case. It is very common that they tell you that you will get a decision in a week or two, but then there are long delays, so I do not think that is a bad sign. I do not know of anything special you can do after one year passes, but it sounds like it would be worthwhile to go there and ask about your case. Good luck, Jason


Patti Lyman March 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I completely agree, Jason. I do tend to file minimal information in the initial filing, because once I sit down with client for very detailed affidavits and interview prep, there are always corrections and additions that come up, so I save the greatest detail and specific evidence for the pre-interview filing. However, I too ascribe to the adage that, in the end, “Accuracy is Speed”.


Cara February 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

“In my humble (and correct) opinion..” – haha – love it Jase! 🙂


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