The Refugee Ball Post-Game Report: Why It Matters

by Jason Dzubow on January 19, 2017

The Refugee Ball took place on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. It was wonderful to see hundreds of people from all different backgrounds and countries come together to celebrate America’s humanitarian immigration system.

Economist, talk show host, women’s rights advocate, and amazing singer, Amal Nourelhuda (originally from Sudan), performs at the Refugee Ball.

There were musicians from Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tibet. There was a Persian rapper. Our emcee was a journalist/asylum seeker from Ethiopia. We had Lebanese, Tibetan, and Ethiopian food, and Syrian cookies. There was artwork by a young Honduran asylum seeker and an Iranian refugee. Speakers included the former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals (who now has his own blog), an asylee from Azerbaijan, and the president and CEO of HIAS, a non-profit organization that assists refugees. We also had a special guest appearance by Congressman Jamie Raskin. All-in-all, not a bad way to spend an evening.

One message of the Refugee Ball is that asylum seekers and refugees contribute in valuable ways to our society. They bring their skills and talents to America, and we are stronger because of their presence here. Also, by offering asylum to those who work with us and those who share our values, we demonstrate to our allies that we are on their side; that we have got their back. This makes it more likely that people around the world will cooperate with us and work to advance the values that our nation aspires to: Democracy, freedom of speech, women’s rights, LGBT rights, freedom of religion, equality, peace. When we have the cooperation of our allies, our country is safer and more secure, and our asylum system helps engender that cooperation.

And of course, granting protection to those in need of assistance is the right thing to do. I know that if my family members had to flee the United States, I would want more than anything for them to receive a friendly reception in their country of refuge. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Another message of the Ball is that advocates for asylum seekers and refugees remain committed to assisting people who have come to our country for protection. And although the incoming Administration may create a more difficult environment for our clients, our commitment to those seeking our country’s protection will not wane.

For me, though, the most important message of the Ball was that of the courage and perseverance displayed by the refugees and asylum seekers who I saw there. Many of the people who participated in the event were themselves victims of terrible torture and persecution. But there they were at the Ball–singing and dancing, giving speeches, making art and food for us to enjoy. Each of them provides an example of how the human spirit can survive extreme adversity and go on to create beauty, and of how life can triumph over death. I can’t help but be inspired by their examples.

So while we really do not know what to expect in the days and months ahead, we can draw strength from each other, and from the examples set by the refugees and asylum seekers themselves, who have endured great hardships, but who still have hope that America will live up to the high ideals that we have set for ourselves.

To those who participated in, supported, and attended the Refugee Ball, Thank you. Thank you for contributing your time, talent, energy, and money to supporting the cause of refugees and asylum seekers. Thank you for inspiring me, and for reminding me of why I work as an asylum attorney. I feel optimistic knowing that we are united in our goal of welcoming the stranger, and that we are all in this together to support each other.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Anita September 26, 2017 at 6:11 pm

What is the work permit wait time for asylum seekers in Nebraska after applying


Jason Dzubow September 27, 2017 at 6:33 am

Once you file for asylum, you must wait 150 days and then you can apply for a work permit. Where I am (DC), we are seeing work permits take 3 to 4 months, and sometimes longer. Different parts of the country have different wait times, and I am not sure about NE. Take care, Jason


Rita February 2, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Good morning, Mr. Dzubow.

I was wondering if you ever come across anything like my little “situation”. I’ve been constantly checking my asylum case status online and the system was never able to pull up any info (case not found message). I checked again yesterday and it says they received my application and waived the fees for Employment Authorization Application I-765 and the case number shown is my asylum application case number.

I renewed my EAD a couple months ago and had a different case number. Is it just a clerical error?


Jason Dzubow February 3, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I am not sure, but you cannot check as asylum case status on line. If you want to check, you have to contact the asylum office by email or in person (or maybe by phone, but they often do not answer). You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason


Harmony January 31, 2017 at 9:45 am

Hi Jason,

I applied for Asylum in October 2015,Arlington Office, got my EAD but no interview.I put my name on shortlist but they have not responded at all.How long do I have to wait to be called on shorlist in Arlington.I tried calling the office but they hardly answer their phones as i wanted to inquire where there are with the shortlist.

Thanks for the response.


david January 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm

HI jason.
Thank you very much for valuable article.I am asylum approved person.My case was granted on 2016.I have question regarding my family.I have 2 sons 7 and 5 years.Right now i wanna apply for my wife and youngest son.Because my oldest son has health problem.Is it possible to apply him later,like 5 years?Or Do i need to apply together.


Jason Dzubow February 1, 2017 at 11:02 pm

If you are talking about the form I-730, you have to file that within 2 years of receiving asylum. If you want to wait longer, you can get your green card and file for your son later, just as any green card person can file for his child (assuming the law does not change in the coming years). Take care, Jason


Ob January 28, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Jason i would like to know about my work authorization..what will be the effects of atooping the new registration of all new refugees. Are they gonna stop the clocks of all refugee who’s cases are under process.


Jason Dzubow January 29, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Unless you are from a “country of particular concern” (see my blog post from January 27), your EAD should not be affected. If you are from such a country, it is unclear at this point whether your EAD will be blocked. Take care, Jason


Marvin January 27, 2017 at 12:17 am

Hello Mr. Jason, first I want to thank you for your time that you spend helping us and we keep sharing your site/blogs as well via our social groups. So Thanks again.

My question is: I’ve been granted asylum 2016 and filed I-730 for my wife and son-7-yrs (both Syrian passport holders), Do you think they will still be able to follow me, while the new Trump’s regulations.

Now we are not that happy with my asylum approval because we think there is no chance to reunite our small family.

Thanks in advance!


Jason Dzubow January 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Trump’s order blocks Syrians from getting visas, so it like would affect your family. I suspect the I-730 will be approved, but the problem will come when they apply for a visa at the US consulate. As of now, there is no way to know this, as the executive order is openly for a limited duration, and it is vague, so we do not know for that it will block your family. We will have to wait and see how the EO is implemented. Hopefully, family members following to join people with asylum will be allowed through, but as of now, we do not know. Take care, Jason


Basil January 25, 2017 at 10:56 am

Hello Jason
Trump will sign EO to halt refugees coming in think also that this will effect asylees & asylum applications & EADs ?


Jason Dzubow January 26, 2017 at 7:07 am

I have not seen anything from Trump yet that would affect a pending asylum case or someone who already has asylum, but we do not know what is to come, and it is not 100% clear what the executive order will do, as some of it seems ambiguous. We will have to wait and see how it is interpreted and implemented. Take care, Jason


Basil January 26, 2017 at 11:03 am

Thank you ,my attorney in Los Angeles applied for my initia EAD I received the receipt from Texas service center why is that ? And should I recieve the card in 3 weeks ?


Jason Dzubow January 29, 2017 at 11:29 am

If you received a receipt, it is probably fine. It takes 2 to 4 months to get the EAD. Take care, Jason


John January 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Hi Jason why the initial EAD ( asylum) will take that long ? It should be issued in 180 days ..

Nigel January 23, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Hello Jason.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for all the work you do for asylum seekers and refugees. God bless you and your family.

I applied for asylum in Boston in 2015 and now due to relocation getting my case moved to Virginia. Do you think transferring the case may potentially delay my interview day?

I understand that your firm in based in Virginia, so I’d like to visit you and discuss my case, if possible. I do have a lawyer (from NYC) but to be honest I have some doubts about his qualification. So, I’d consider to change the lawyer.



Jason Dzubow January 25, 2017 at 7:01 am

Moving the case should not affect your place in the queue. I recommend you follow up with the old and new asylum offices by email to make sure the case is transferred and that you are in line. You can find the Asylum Office contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. My office is in Washington, DC, and I do represent many people in Virginia. You are welcome to email me at Take care, Jason


David r January 22, 2017 at 1:48 am

What are the chances of having work permit denied and the major reasons this could happen? Applying the 150 days rule


Jason Dzubow January 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm

It used to be that people who moved from one asylum office to another stopped the asylum clock, but this is no longer the case, and so generally everyone gets a work permit. Maybe if you commit a crime or an immigration fraud, or if you complete the form incorrectly, that would block you from getting the EAD. Take care, Jason


Tortured Soul January 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I NEED to hear from you about my prospects as an asylum seeker…..I am pretty anxious about my lot.


Jason Dzubow January 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

I believe I already replied to you. If not, you will need to repost your question. Take care, Jason


Tortured Soul January 22, 2017 at 7:19 pm

I am a TERRIBLE outcast here in this HINDU shithole called INDIA…..because firstly,I am quite the CHRISTIAN in my thinking and deeds though yet to be baptized simply because converts from HINDUISM to CHRISTIANITY face a lot of abuse in general and infinite verbal abuse in particular.I have had trouble with orthodox HINDUS due to my frank disposition in the past evidenced by serious injuries to my body.
Secondly,I am passionately in love with the language ENGLISH…I can safely call myself a POET cum RAPPER.I can show you my stuff.The diocese of the EPISCOPAL church in LA can vouch for my credentials besides being a friend of mine.My family has disowned me completely and I am treated like a FREAK like a RENEGADE by one and all.
I am 35 years of age and single….was in a long distance relationship with a MINNESOTAN girl for a good 4 years before she eventually dumped me due to my inability to get the coveted CHARTERED ACCOUNTANCY degree……I have had been stuck in the FINAL qualifying stage of the CHARTERED ACCOUNTANCY course for ages.
Does my plea for asylum in the CHRISTIAN country the land of opportunity for WRITERS stand any chance of success?Kindly enlighten me.


Jason Dzubow January 23, 2017 at 7:05 am

First, to apply for asylum, you must be physically present in the US. The best I can tell you is that if you face persecution in India – and usually, but not always, this means physical harm – and it is because of your religion or political opinion (for another protected reason such as race, nationality or particular social group) then you may qualify for asylum. If you want a better idea about your chances for asylum before you come to the US, talk to a lawyer here about the specifics of your case. Take care, Jason


Tortured Soul January 23, 2017 at 3:58 pm

I gave you the specifics…….to some extent…..what do you think

Tortured Soul January 21, 2017 at 4:32 pm

I NEED to hear from you about my prospects as a asylum seeker.


Lucas January 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Hi Jason,
Thank you for your help. I hope, you have an answer to my question too.
I’m married to a US citizen and have had a pending asylum case for two years. My partner filed a petition for a spouse Green Card and my initial asylum interview may be coming sooner than the Green card interview. My questions are :
1. Is it legal to attend my asylum interview in this situation, and if so, is it possible to keep my asylee status(if I’m lucky to be granted one after the interview) even if I have a spouse GC?

Thank you! God bless!


Jason Dzubow January 21, 2017 at 7:13 pm

You can keep your asylee status even if you are married to a US citizen. Some people do this because they need the Refugee Travel Document, for example. If you lose the asylum case and are sent to court, you can basically close out the court case based on the marriage (assuming you are eligible for the GC based on marriage to a US citizen). Take care, Jason


Mynation January 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Great effort Jason!


Ashm January 19, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Hello Jason, I changed my address from SF to Boston, its been a year but I haven’t heard anything yet. Can I call the USCIS office and ask about it? Are they scheduling interviews very late? How can I know about that?


Jason Dzubow January 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

Assuming you moved your case to Boston, you will be interviewed in the Boston office, which is a sub office of New Jersey. You should contact the New Jersey asylum office to ask about the status of your case. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Also, Boston does not publish info about who is being interviewed there now, but you can look at the schedule for NJ, and it should be similar to that schedule (though usually the sub offices are slower than the main office). Take care, Jason


Josh L January 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Great writing!
It was after reading your blog that I decided to get in touch with you on my case. I’m glad I did.


Jason Dzubow January 20, 2017 at 9:58 am

Thank you – I am happy to be working with you. Take care, Jason


Tash January 19, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Hello Jason,
Your blogs are much appreciated. Thank you. I have a few questions.

1st-Is it possible to find out which office is processing your application? Originally my case was assigned to NJ but then I moved to FL. I informed USCIS over the phone regarding the change of address but never sent a written letter to NJ requesting a change of address.

2nd. NJ has scheduled in December 2016 applications filed in Dec 2013 and Jan. And I filed in December.
I contacted my family from my old address they didn’t receive any interview letter yet. Could you please tell me how fast does the office send out interview letters. When should I expect an interview letter. And how to check which address do they have in file?


Jason Dzubow January 20, 2017 at 9:57 am

You need to submit an AR-11 form (available at to the original asylum office. I doubt they would move your case based on a phone call. It sounds like if your case is in NJ, you should get an interview very soon. I recommend you contact the office in NJ and ask about what is happening with your case. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason


Amit January 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Great Job, Jason.
I wish I could be there. But good to know that it was a success. Thanks for all your efforts and work. Take Care.


scopa January 19, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Dear Jason,
Congratulations ion your successful celebration. There is a hope inside those seeking protection here. I do believe that the new administration will not be that much naive to terrible situations around the globe.
I do hope that people like you are everywhere to support refugees and asylum seekers. I am not pessimistic. How about you guys? Let us be positive thinkers and face the reality.
Have a great day!


Jason Dzubow January 20, 2017 at 9:45 am

I think there are some reasons for optimism – Republicans generally support the asylum system, but we will have to be cautious, as there are many who would see that system degraded. Take care, Jason


Jason Dzubow January 25, 2017 at 7:02 am

I have given you my opinion based on what I know. There is nothing more I can offer you. Take care, Jason


Jason Dzubow January 30, 2017 at 11:13 pm

A person is eligible for the EAD after 180 days. The person is allowed to apply earlier than 180 days (he can apply after 150 days), but once you apply, it takes (usually) between 2 and 4 months for USCIS to process the papers and issue the EAD. Take care, Jason


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