My Asylum Case Is Delayed; What Can I Do?

by Jason Dzubow on February 26, 2015

These days, I feel a bit like a broken record: Delay, delay, delay. It’s all I seem to write about (and what I spend much of my work day dealing with). But it is the big issue with asylum cases, both in the Asylum Office and the Immigration Court, and so it is on everyone’s mind. Today I want to talk about delay at the Asylum Office and what can be done about it.

Yipee! Asylum cases filed during the Jurassic period are now being interviewed.

Yipee! Asylum cases filed during the Jurassic period are now being interviewed.

Most recently, the Asylum Office changed its policy and is now interviewing old cases before new cases. This means that new cases will probably take one to two years before the interview. Previously-filed cases will be interviewed in the order that they were received by the Asylum Office. Our oldest backlog cases–filed in April 2013–have just been scheduled for interviews, so we are starting to see the effect of the new policy.

Anyway, let’s get to it. If your case is delayed, what can you do about it? There are several actions you can take to try to get a faster interview date. None of them is guaranteed to work, but–depending on your circumstances–some may be worth a try.

Short List: You can put your case on the “short list.” The short list is a list of people who will be contacted for an interview if another case is canceled. In my local Asylum Office (Virginia), there are approximately 250 cases on the short list. The Asylum Office interviews about 10 such cases per month, so the “short list” is not very short or very fast. When your name is called, you may not have much notice before the interview (for example, the Asylum Office could call you today and tell you to appear for an interview tomorrow). For this reason, when you put your name on the short list, your case should be complete and all documents should be submitted. This is particularly crucial if your Asylum Office–like mine–requires all documents to be submitted at least one week prior to the interview.

Once your name is on the short list, the Asylum Office will eventually contact you for an interview. In the event that you are called, but cannot attend, there is no penalty. However, your name will go to the back of the line, so probably you will not be called again for some time.

The bottom line here is that the short list may be a way to get an earlier interview date, but it is not all that fast. So it is certainly not a perfect solution. On the other hand, there really is no downside to putting your name on the short list, so if you would like to move your case faster, this is a good first step.

Request to Expedite: If you have a medical, family, professional, or other emergency or need, you can ask the Asylum Office to expedite your case. We have had mixed luck with this option. We’ve tried to expedite for several people where they had family members overseas who were facing problems. For most of these cases, the Asylum Office did not expedite, but for a few, it did. We were able to expedite a case where the client had cancer. We’ve also had luck expediting a case where the client needed to obtain status for professional reasons. In short, our success at expediting cases seems to have little relationship to the seriousness of the client’s problem.

If you want to expedite your case, you need to contact the Asylum Office and ask to expedite. You need to explain why you want to expedite and include some evidence–such as a doctor’s note–about the reason you want the case expedited. Again, we’ve had very mixed success with getting our clients’ cases expedited, but there really is no down side to trying.

Congress: You can contact your local Congressional Representative to ask for help with your case. You can find contact information for your local Representative here and for your state’s Senators here. Generally, in my experience, this option has not been effective at getting a faster interview date, but there is no harm in trying. If you have a U.S. citizen friend (or church group or other group) who can make this request for you, it may be more effective.

DHS Ombudsman: You can inquire with the DHS Ombudsman’s office about your case. This office exists to assist people who have problem cases. The Ombudsman’s website is here. I have a high opinion of the Ombudsman’s office, and they do want to help, but I think their ability to make cases go faster is very limited. I doubt they will be able to help make a case faster under ordinary circumstances. But perhaps if you have tried to expedite due to an emergency, and you have not had success, they could assist you.

Mandamus: You can file a Mandamus lawsuit against the Asylum Office. In a Mandamus lawsuit, you sue the Asylum Office and ask the Judge to order the Asylum Office to do its job (process your case). I have never done this, but I have heard about some applicants successfully suing the Asylum Office. Generally, the Asylum Office will not want to waste resources fighting Mandamus suits, so they might agree to process the case rather than fight the lawsuit. As I see it, the two downsides to this are: (1) There is not a strong legal basis to force the Asylum Office to process a person’s case. The regulations generally require asylum cases to be processed in less than six months, but there are broad exceptions to this time frame, and the Asylum Office can rely on those exceptions to process cases more slowly. Although the suits may not be very strong legally, they can still succeed where the Asylum Office would rather interview the applicant than fight the lawsuit; and (2) It can be expensive to hire an attorney to process a Mandamus lawsuit. For applicants who can afford this approach, however, it might offer a way to make things faster (though it will surely not enamor you to the Asylum Office). 

To learn more about your options, you may want to contact your local Asylum Office. Contact information about your office can be found here. There is no magic solution to delay at the Asylum Office, but I hope that some of these suggestions will be helpful. If you have had success with these or other ideas, please let us know.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben August 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Hello jason

I have a quick question to ask. I was recently granted an asylum and i am thinking of moving to ohio. Do i need to make change of address now.? Secondly, how do i change my restricted SSN? Do i need to make change of address prior to applyin for ssn? Can i applt for my unrestricted ssn in ohio? Please any help you would give me is helpful

Thanks

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Jason Dzubow August 14, 2017 at 9:39 pm

You are supposed to make the change within 10 days of moving (after you move). Use form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov. As for the SSN, once you have the EAD (work permit), you should be able to change that. I suppose you can apply for the SSN wherever you are. It is federal and it should not affect whether you are in Ohio or some other state. Take care, Jason

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Jean Roody August 10, 2017 at 12:32 am

Hello Jason,
If i am an aylum alicant in united states and go to another country never come back to united states,what will happen to my case?
thanks in advance!
Jean Roody!

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Jason Dzubow August 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

Eventually, you will get a deportation order, which will make it much more difficult for you to ever return to the US. If you want to try to avoid that, contact the local asylum office and ask them to cancel your case. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Jean Roody August 10, 2017 at 11:17 am

Thanks a lot Jason!

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Lucy August 9, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Hi Jason,

I need your help. I am so concerned about my case. I applied for asylum in April of 2014 and got fingerprinted within a few weeks. However I still haven’t received any notice for the interview itself. The office with jurisdiction over my case is Los Angeles. Could it be that my case got lost or because I never tried to expedite it, they might take a few more years to process it? I have applied for extending my EAD several times already. Please, advise…

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Jason Dzubow August 9, 2017 at 10:35 pm

LA is the slowest office in the country. You can see if you check the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin – a link is at right. My guess is that you still have some time to wait. You can ask to expedite, and I did a posing on March 30, 2017 that might help with that. Take care, Jason

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Agnes August 4, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Hi! I have a question. I applied for asylum in 2014, I’m still waiting for my interview, but my question is i moved from Seattle to Houston, that means my jurisdiction has changed , the thing is that I did not changed my address with the asylum office, I kept my Seattle address on file but I changed my address with uscis for EAD purpose. The reason why I kept my Seattle address is because San Francisco office is one of the best. Would that be an issue? Or is that conflicting? Thanks

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Jason Dzubow August 6, 2017 at 10:31 pm

It certainly could be an issue. If they think you are lying about your address, they might think you are lying about other parts of your case. Also, they might refuse to interview you and send the case to Texas. You are required to change your address if you move (using form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov) and if you do not do that, it could have negative consequences for your case. Take care, Jason

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Anas August 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I have filed an asylum application 3 years and 8 months ago, been interviewed for the first time after 7 months, inquired with ombudsman’s office, requested to expedite, contacted the congressman, and the result was I got a second interview after 2 years and 4 months from the first one. Recently I requested the FOIA from USCIS. There were two ” referal notice” among the papers in my FOIA , none of them was signed or dated. I didn’t receive any referral notice officially yet.
What are the options available to me right now ?

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Jason Dzubow August 3, 2017 at 11:25 am

Interesting. You could file a mandamus lawsuit. You might also consult with a lawyer to look at the FOIA documents. Maybe if you can understand the problem with the case (from the asylum office’s point of view), you can submit additional evidence in order to convince them to grant. If not, at least you will have that evidence if you go to court. Take care, Jason

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Rigs August 2, 2017 at 12:35 am

Hi,
I filed my asylum application with my daughter in September 2016 from Amherst Massachusetts.
My question
1. I don’t know under which jurisdiction is my asylum pending.
2. I want to short list my application. Don’t know how
3. If I leave states since it is taking a long time then will my daughter and husband be able to come to states in future for good.
Thanking you in advance for all the replies

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Jason Dzubow August 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

1 – You can find the asylum office if you enter your zip code on the Asylum Office Locator – a link is at right. 2 – Contact the asylum office and ask to be put on the short list – you can follow the same link to find their contact info. 3 – I do not understand this question. Take care, Jason

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Romeo August 1, 2017 at 1:29 am

Hi Jason ,I did my interview in San Francisco on June 5 and I still didn’t get a decision,recently my mom diagnose a cancer and she is in third countrie , how can I expedite decision? I’m so confused sometime I think leave and going to see mom please give me some advice how can I get my decision fast.thank you

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Jason Dzubow August 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Get a letter from your mother’s doctor about the cancer, and contact the SF asylum office to explain the problem. Maybe they can expedite the decision. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. You can also file for Advance Parole using form I-131, available at http://www.uscis.gov. That allows you to leave the US and return, but it may take 6 months to get it, and if your case is granted (or denied) in the interim, the Advance Parole will be useless. Take care, Jason

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Sarah July 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Hello
I’m 18 ,I field my asylum application when i was 17 ,on March 24,and got an interview on May 24 at the Arlington asylum officer, I didn’t have a lawyer ,only a interpreter because I’m not really fluent in English ,my interview was very long ;but I did my best to answer all the millions questions,I was really tired.
My mom was here before me,and she hasn’t been interviewed yet,but I don’t live with her, the asylum officer kept on asking me why I don’t live with her,but I’m already 18,is it a problem?
The asylum officer who interviewed me kept my original birth certificate and told me that my interview wasn’t finished,the office was closing, so,she Will mail me a new appointment for another interview and she will give me back my birth certificate at the second interview , but now it’s been almost July and I didn’t get anything yet is it normal? What can we do?

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Jason Dzubow July 23, 2017 at 7:19 am

You do not have to live with your mother; that should not affect your asylum case. Also, “minor children” (under 18) are interviewed on a faster schedule, so that is why you got a quick interview date. I would go to the asylum office in-person or send an email to ask about finishing the interview. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Ben July 21, 2017 at 10:08 am

Hello jason

I have quick question to ask. After waiting 6 months after my second interview, my asylum office informed me that my case has been completed and that i will get a mail in a week or two. When i checked my asylum case using ZAR # today, it says as follows:
” We reveived your case and have waived the fee for your i765 form……”

Does that mean my case is granted? And one more thing i currently have a valid ead. Will they mail me another ead card with ZAR receipt number on it?

Thanks

Reply

MAZ July 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Hi, Ben

Congratulations you are granted Asylum and you will get your grant letter, I 94 and EAD soon in the mail,
Welcome to 🇺🇸 USA, Enjoy your freedom,

Regards,

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MAZ July 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

I really appreciate if you can share your timeline,

Thanks

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Ben July 22, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Thanks Maza. I really hope so. Here is my timeline:

Applied asylum: Feb 23 2013
First interview: september 17 2013
Second interview: january 5 2017
Asylum status changed to ead production: july 21, 2017

Regards,

Reply

Jason Dzubow July 23, 2017 at 6:52 am

It may be a good sign, but you can’t know for sure until you get the decision. If you are granted, they will send you a new EAD, but it should have your Alien number, not your ZAR number. Take care, Jason

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Helen Oboh July 12, 2017 at 12:02 am

Hi sir
I applied for asylum at January 23rd 2017. please I want to know when we will be called for interview.
Thanks very much.
Helen O.

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Jason Dzubow July 12, 2017 at 6:38 am

No one knows that, but you can get an idea about it if you check the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin – a link is at right. Take care, Jason

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GT July 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

Hi Jason,

I literally learned about the shortlist and it worked for me.
But unfortunately, I totally missed it as they emailed it to my junk folder. I just found it today.

I remember that you mentioned that they would not give me a penalty. But, they would just put me back in line. When you said back in line, does it mean that my case will be further delayed that the initial wait duration before I was called to fill in the short-list?

Is it really true that there’s absolutely zero penalty for me to miss this four months ago?

I am also moving to New Mexico soon next couple of weeks so I guess I would not have the chance to be called in for the short-list (I believe it’s for those who lives locally near the office).

Would my move delay my case even though New Mexico is under the jurisdiction of Houston Asylum office?

Sorry but I just panicked after realizing that I totally missed out on the opportunity to be interviewed earlier.

Here’s the excerpt of the email they sent me to invite me for the “Short-List” interview:

We have one open interview slot available on 3/10/17 at 7:30 AM, at the Houston Asylum Office. Please advise no later than 10:00AM Monday morning (3/6/17) if you are able to accept this date and time.
Thank you,
Houston Asylum Office
16630 Imperial Valley Dr., Ste. 200
Houston, TX 77060
281-931-2100

Reply

Alex July 10, 2017 at 2:09 am

Hi GT, I hope you find an answer with Jason, and I am sure you will. I have a question please, how much does it take since you sent to them asking for short list till you got that email?

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GT July 10, 2017 at 8:19 am

Hi Alex, there’s no extra fee to send in a letter to ask for a short-listed fee. Please refer to your lawyer how to send it or perhaps Jason would probably know as well.

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Alex July 10, 2017 at 10:05 am

Thank you GT, I meant how many days does it take since you sent asking for short list till you got that email about interview?

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GT July 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

It wasn’t days, it was about nine months.
To clarify, I filed the Asylum application on Feb, 2016.

Send a letter to request to include me in the short-list around June 2016. Got my EAD card in August 2016.

Got the short-list interview in March 2017.

Does that make sense?

Jason Dzubow July 10, 2017 at 6:29 am

I think you should email them and explain what happened. Maybe they can keep you on the short list and you can try again. It should not matter where you live. If they cannot (or you do not want an earlier interview any more), you can just continue waiting and be interviewed according to the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin – a link is at right. There is no penalty for missing the short list interview. Take care, Jason

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GT July 10, 2017 at 8:23 am

Thank you for your help, Jason. Last night, I emailed them this. I hope it’s sufficient for me to be in the shortlist.

Good evening,

Literally, I just found this email in my junk mail a minute ago. I am apologize that I didn’t get the memo on time and get back to you.

Please keep me posted on the next possible interview opening slot.

Thank you,
[private contact info]
7-10-2017

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Jason Dzubow July 12, 2017 at 5:51 am

If you do not hear back from them in a week or so, email again, but hopefully this will work. Take care, Jason

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Jeet brar July 6, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Jason,
Quick ques, I am waiting on my second EAD. For some reason I am unable to check the status of EAD card online. I was able to check it in the past like when I applied for my first EAD under asylum. Is it a new thing that we can’t check our EAD online anymore just like our Asylum application. My receipt # starts with SRC
Thanks,
Jeet

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Jason Dzubow July 7, 2017 at 4:51 pm

I am not sure why that is – you should be able to check. Maybe call USCIS (their phone number can be found at http://www.uscis.gov) and ask someone about that. Take care, Jason

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Alex July 2, 2017 at 2:45 am

Hi Jason, Thank you for all help. I have 2 questions:
1- how can I put my case on short list? is it by calling the office or send a request to them by mail?
2- In request to expedite, what do you mean by professional emergency?

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Jason Dzubow July 3, 2017 at 11:36 pm

1 – At our office, we do that by email, but maybe you can call, file by mail or go in person. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. 2 – You can give any reason to expedite, but you would need to provide some evidence. Maybe you will lose your job unless your case is approved; that might be a professional emergency. Or maybe you are a doctor and need to do the whole “match day” thing. Unless you have status, maybe you cannot match. Do remember – if you ask to expedite or short list, you should make sure to submit all evidence and documents to the asylum office, so you are ready to go if they call you. Take care, Jason

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Alex July 19, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Hi Jason,
1- I send to the office for expedite request by mail since 2 weeks, should they respond to me by mail also if it’s accepted or not? when should I expect this response?
2- I sent to them also fr short list by email, and they answered back saying “interview will be scheduled in the future as soon as resources permit”, does it mean that my application is in short list now?

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Jason Dzubow July 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm

1 – Typically they respond by email or phone, but they could respond by mail by just scheduling an appointment. You can email them or go there to ask about the status of the expedite request, but we are seeing it take up to a month for a response. 2 – I am not sure what that means. Maybe you can email them to confirm that you are on the short list. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Alex July 19, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Thank you Jason so much,
I did emailed them to confirm that I am on the short list. Thank you for all help

Jean Roody July 1, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Hello Jason,
When your asylum case is pending and you have 150 days, then you apply for EAD, after applying for the work permit, how long do we have to wait to receive it?
Thanks in advance Jason!

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Jason Dzubow July 3, 2017 at 11:32 pm

We usually see people wait 2 to 4 months, though lately it is closer to 4 months. Take care, Jason

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Melody July 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Hi jason thanks for your usual response, Myself,husband and a kid applied for work permit after 150 days pending assylum,and when we checked the status online,my husband status has changed to CARD WAS MAILED TO ME.While myself and my kid’s own is stil CASE WAS RECEIVED.is there anything we need to do because am worried as we applied together

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Jason Dzubow July 3, 2017 at 11:28 pm

I do not know why cases filed together are processed differently, but this is very common and I think there is no need to worry. EADs normally take 2 to 4 months, so if he gets the EAD and you and your child are still waiting after 3 or 4 months, you can call USCIS to inquire. Their number can be found on their website – http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Jean Roody June 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Hello Jason
After applying for asylum, i know you will get access to apply for work permit after 150 days. My question is about the 150 days, i want to know if it is 150 business days or if Saturday and Sunday are included in the 150 days?
Thanks in advance for the answer!

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Jason Dzubow June 28, 2017 at 6:29 am

The 150 days includes weekends. So if your asylum case is filed today, June 27, 2017, you can file for your work permit on about November 27, 2017. Take care, Jason

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Jean Roody June 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Hello Jason,
thanks you very much for the answer!

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Jean Roody July 10, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Hello Jason,
I want to know if you have to pay when you first apply for the EAD after the 150 days? if yes, how much?
thanks in advance Mr Jason!

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Jason Dzubow July 12, 2017 at 6:11 am

For an EAD based on asylum pending, you do not have to pay for the first EAD. You do pay for renewals (second EAD, etc.). Take care, Jason

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JP June 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Hi Jason,

Thanks for always helping us on different sets of matter regarding Asylum, I have question regarding my sister in law as she applied for asylum two & half years ago and recently she has been called for finger print and will get interview soon in Helena, Montana.

As her case has been handled by a lawyer up to now but due to her financial situation she can’t be able to take the lawyer for interview as it may cost her too much. Now the question is

Can she make appearance before judge without her lawyer?
Does this will have any negative impact on her case as up to now the lawyer is handling her case?
What other consequence it may have?

Your response will be highly appreciated.

Regards,

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Jason Dzubow June 28, 2017 at 6:27 am

She can go without a lawyer and it should not affect the case (though some cases need lawyers more than others – I wrote about that on July 7, 2016). The lawyer does not do much at the interview (usually), but the lawyer can help a lot preparing the case and practicing with the person before the interview. I did a blog post about what happens at the interview on September 8, 2016 – maybe that would help. I also wrote about finding a free lawyer on September 22, 2016). Take care, Jason

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Bal June 25, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Help Sir i applied emergency motion in newyork how many processing time for answer the judge and how long processing the case

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Jason Dzubow June 26, 2017 at 6:33 am

There is no set time. You can call the court and try to talk to the Judge’s clerk about the motion. You can find the court phone number if you follow the link at right called Immigration Court. Take care, Jason

Reply

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