Expediting a Case in Immigration Court

by Jason Dzubow on April 20, 2017

For the last few years, the “hot topic” in asylum has been the backlog–the very long delays caused by too many applicants and too few adjudicators. I recently wrote about the backlog at the Asylum Office and what can be done to expedite a case. One commenter suggested that I write a post about expediting cases in Immigration Court, and since I aim to please, here it is.

Courts are still wrapping up the last of Justice Marshall’s immigration cases.

The first thing to note is that the backlog in Immigration Court is huge. According to recent data, there are over 542,000 cases pending in court (not all of these cases are asylum). The average wait time for a case in Immigration Court is 677 days. The slowest court is Colorado, where wait times average 994 days. That’s a long time, especially if you are separated from family members while your case is pending. For what it’s worth, I have previously written about some ideas for reducing the wait time in Immigration Court (you will be shocked to learn that EOIR has not yet contacted me to implement these ideas!).

Second, advancing a case is not easy. The Immigration Court Practice Manual, page 101, specifically notes that, “Motions to advance are disfavored.” The motion should “completely articulate the reasons for the request and the adverse consequences if the hearing date is not advanced.” Health problems or separation from family may good reasons to advance. I discuss these and other possible reasons here (the post relates to affirmative asylum cases, but the same logic applies).

Third, expediting a case in Immigration Court is not as straightforward as expediting a case at the Asylum Office. There are different approaches that you can take, depending on the posture of your case. For advancing a case (and for the case itself), it is very helpful to have the assistance of an attorney. Indeed, according to TRAC Immigration, 91% of unrepresented asylum applicants in Immigration Court have their cases denied (whether they get other relief, like Withholding of Removal, I do not know). If you can afford a lawyer (or find one for free), it will be to your benefit in expediting and winning your asylum case in court.

OK, before we get to the various approaches for advancing a court case, let’s start with a bit of background. A case commences in Immigration Court when the Notice to Appear–or NTA–is filed with the court. The NTA lists the reasons why the U.S. government believes it can deport (or, in the more bowdlerized parlance of our time, “remove”) someone from the United States. After the court receives the NTA, it schedules the alien for an initial hearing, called a Master Calendar Hearing (“MCH”). At the MCH, the alien–hopefully with the help of an attorney–tells the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) whether the allegations in the NTA are admitted or denied, and whether the alien agrees that he can be deported. In most asylum cases, the alien admits that he is deportable, and then informs the Judge that his defense to deportation is his claim for asylum. The IJ then schedules the alien for a Merits Hearing (also called an Individual Hearing), where the alien can present his application for asylum, and either receive asylum (or some other relief) or be ordered deported from the United States. Depending where in this process your case is, the procedures to expedite vary.

If you have the NTA, but the MCH is not yet scheduled: In some cases, the alien receives an NTA, but then waits many months before the MCH is scheduled. In this case, the delay usually lies with DHS (Department of Homeland Security), which issues the NTAs and files them with the Court, rather than with the Court itself. The Immigration Court has an automated number that you can call to check whether your case is scheduled for a hearing date. The phone number is 1-800-898-7180. Follow the prompts and enter your nine-digit Alien number (also called an “A number”). The system will tell you whether your case is scheduled and the date of the next hearing.

If the system indicates that your “A-number was not found,” this probably means that the NTA has not yet been submitted to the Court. Contact the local DHS/ICE Office of the Chief Counsel and talk to the attorney on duty. Perhaps that person can help get the NTA filed with the Court, so the case can begin.

If your A-number is in the system, but there is no MCH scheduled, contact the Immigration Court directly to ask the clerk for an update. If the Court has the case, it may be possible to file a motion (a formal request) to schedule the case. However, if an IJ is not yet assigned to the case, such a request may disappear into the void once it is filed. Most lawyers (including me) would generally not file a motion until a Judge is assigned, as it is probably a waste of time, but maybe it is possible to try this, if your lawyer is willing.

While you are waiting for the Court to docket your case (i.e., give you a court date), you can gather evidence and complete your affidavit. That way, once the case is on the schedule, you will be ready to file your documents and ask to expedite.

If the MCH is scheduled: Sometimes, MCHs are scheduled months–or even years–in the future. If your case is assigned to an IJ and you have a MCH date, there are a couple options for expediting.

First, you can file a motion to advance the date of the MCH. If the MCH is sooner, the final (Merits) hearing will be sooner as well. Whether the IJ will grant the motion and give you an earlier appointment is anyone’s guess. Some IJs (and their clerks) are good about this; others, not so much.

Second, you can request to do the MCH in writing (in lieu of attending the hearing in-person). Check the Immigration Court Practice Manual, pages 70 to 72, for information about filing written pleadings. If the Judge allows this, you can avoid attending the MCH and go directly to the Merits Hearing. Just be sure that your affidavit and all supporting documents are submitted, so you are ready to go if and when the IJ schedules you for a final hearing.

Many attorney, including me, do not like filing motions to advance the MCH or motions for a written MCH. The reason is because they often do not work, and so what happens is this: You prepare and file the motion, call the Court several times, and ultimately have to attend the MCH anyway. When lawyers spend time doing extra work, it is fair for them to charge the client additional money. So don’t be surprised if your lawyer tells you that filing a motion will cost extra.

At the MCH: Typically, when you go to the MCH, the IJ gives you the first date available on her calendar for a Merits Hearing. But there are a few things you can do to try to get the earliest possible date.

One thing is to complete the entire case (the affidavit and all supporting documents) and give them to the IJ at the MCH. That way, if there happens to be an early opening, you can take the date (and sometimes, IJs do have early dates–for example, if another case has been cancelled). Many lawyers (again, including me) don’t love this because it requires us to do all the work in advance, and it often does not help. Don’t be surprised if the lawyer wants to charge extra for getting the work done early (many lawyers–and other humans–prefer to put off until tomorrow what we do not need to do today).

Second, you (or your lawyer) can try to talk to the DHS attorney prior to the MCH to see whether any issues in the case can be narrowed (usually, it is not possible to talk to DHS about the substance of the case prior to the MCH, as they have not yet reviewed the file). If that happens, maybe you will need less time to present the case, and you can tell the IJ that you expect a relatively short Merits Hearing. It may be easier for the IJ to find a one-hour opening on his calendar than a three hour opening (normally IJs reserve a three-hour time slot for asylum cases), and so you may end up with an earlier date. Even if you cannot talk with the DHS attorney, you can tell the IJ that you expect to complete the case in an hour and try to convince him to give you an earlier date, if he has one.

Third, if you have a compelling reason for seeking an earlier Merits Hearing, tell the IJ. If you have evidence demonstrating the need for an earlier date, give it to the IJ. Maybe the Judge will not have an earlier date available immediately, but at least he can keep the situation in mind and accommodate you if an earlier date opens up.

Finally, if you simply arrive early at the MCH and get in line, you may end up with an earlier Merits Hearing date than if you show up late to the MCH since IJs usually give out their earlier dates first.

After the MCH, but before the Merits Hearing: Waiting times between the MCH and the Merits Hearing are very variable, depending on the Immigration Judge’s schedule. Assuming that the IJ has given you the first available Merits Hearing date (which is normal – see the previous section), there is not much point in requesting an earlier date immediately after the MCH. Maybe if you wait a few months and if luck is on your side, a spot will open up and your request will be granted. Or–if the Judge has an effective clerk–you can file a motion to advance, and the clerk will save it until a spot opens up for you.

Another possibility is to talk to the DHS attorney to see whether issues can be narrowed, which might make it more likely that the case can be advance (see the previous section).

Some words of caution: Keep in mind that the Immigration Court system is a mess. Judges come and go. Priorities shift, which sometimes causes cases to be moved. It is quite common for court dates to change. Even if you do nothing, a far-off date may be rescheduled to an earlier day, or an upcoming hearing might be delayed. If you successfully advance your court date, it is possible that the Court will later rescheduled your case to a more distant date (this happened to us once). It is difficult to remain patient (and sane) through it all, but maybe being aware of this reality will somehow help.

Also, remember to make sure that your biometrics (fingerprints) are up to date. If not, you may arrive at the Merits Hearing only to have it delayed because the background checks were not complete.

Finally, do not give up. Immigration Judges are human. If they see a compelling reason to expedite a case, most of them will try to help. Explain your situation to the Judge, or let your lawyer explain, and maybe you will end up with an earlier date.

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

ali khan April 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm

Hi Jason,
Hope you are doing great. I lost my appeal with BIA and was given a month time . What options do I have now since I don’t have enough money to appeal to a high or district court. If I move to Canada, will this denial affect my asylum case there? And is it even worth trying to move there?
Best Regards.

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A April 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Hello ali i am sorry to hear that you lost ypur appeal with BIA. If you dont mind i needed to ask you few questions as it will help me alot please:

– Did you have a lawyer when you appealed to BIA? If yes, how much did it cost you?

– Which state you live in?

– How much will it cost you to appeal to higher courts?

– How many years since you filed asylum affirmatively?

Thank you again and i wish you all the success and hopefully winning your case here in the US.

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ali khan April 28, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Thank you so much Jason for your prompt reply.
The answers are here:
– yes, i had a lawyer when i appealed to the BIA. He charged me 5000 for the individual hearing. And 3500 for the appeal.
– I have been living in Massachusetts for the last eight years, and for more than ten years in the US.
– i have heard the higher courts cost around ten thousand and it doesn’t take long for them to decide.
– i filed defensive asylum after i was caught in a raid in 2013. In my individual hearing, the judge denied my case on past and future persecution thing, but in the written decesion, she wrote that she heard the case as affirmative asylum as i successfully established changed country conditions. Plus she observed i am of good moral character. But these things didn’t help.
– It is heartbreaking to leave after living here for so long.
Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks again.

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A April 29, 2017 at 1:36 am

Hi ali khan. Thank you for your responses. I am not Jason, i am concerned asylum seeker living in california. I hope Jason will respond to you soon and help you, but my sincere advice for u is pls if u love this country u must fight till the end. Jason is a wonderful lawyer and there are other great lawyers who are experienced and can give u honest expectations after assessing ur case completely and they’ll tell if u have complicated case or a winnable one, wither its worth to appeal again or not. sometimes there are clients who are real victims and have real fears but they need good lawyers that will present their cases in a way that’ll help them win, some real asylees lose their cases for having incompetent lawyers or not having lawyers at all to explain to them their rights and options for relief. Pls seek another opinion. Dont lose hope. Appeal. Best of luck to you and be safe.

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ali khan April 29, 2017 at 2:09 am

Thanks Dear (A) for your kind words and encouragement. God bless you!

Tina April 29, 2017 at 10:27 am

Feel you brother. I hope it all turns around for good for you.

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XY April 29, 2017 at 11:36 am

Hi Ali
I am sorry t hear that.
That is not the end of the world. You can move to Canada. Keep in mind that Canada and US has a agreement which let asylum seekers to apply in first arrived country. I researched on that agreement. Here is some points I want to let u know.
1. Based on that agreement, you can’t apply for asylum in Canada’s borders and airports, if u first arrived to US. no matter if u applied for asylum in US, did not apply, your asylum is rejected or accepted.
2. If you have uncle, aunts or siblings in Canada then that agreement does not effect you.
3. If you enter Canada illegally, then you can apply for asylum and inside Canada they dont care about that agreement.
3. If you are caught in border, they will deport you back to US and if you ask for asylum, they will reject you asylum claim.
4. If your asylum is rejected in Canada border, you can’t apply for asylum in Canada for the rest of your life.
.
And my own advice, leave US. Search for a save port of entry in Canada border and cross the border.
your life would change. Canada government treats immigrants so respectfully. I am also thinking, once I am dine with my asylum interview and got decision.

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XY April 29, 2017 at 12:18 pm

If you dont mind, which country you are from?

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ali khan April 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Thanks a lot Tina and XY for your kind words and guidance. I am from Pakistan.
Best Regards.

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mohamed April 29, 2017 at 11:26 pm

salam are you from the seven canaries ?

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mohamed April 29, 2017 at 11:32 pm

so sorru ali understand i hope you will find a good cantry for you

As a muslim you know asa an takrho shayaan w ho khayron lkm

its main dont feel bad for some action maybe its good for you from allh

dont worry brother allh will be with you

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Solomon April 28, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Thank you for all your effort in helping us. I recently moved from Boston to Seattle and send the address change form as per the instruction how do I check if my file is sent to Seattle office? It has been more than a month since I sent the address chnage.
Thank you!

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Alex April 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Thank you jason for you respective help for the asylum seekers ,i had my interview in july 2016 ,and still waiting, my EAD expire in 15 may I applied to renew the EAD three months ago and still waiting .i took my reciept from USCIS and went to DMV to extend my driving license the 180 days that given by USCiS to The expired AED cards luckily they told me that am permitted to indefinite renewal of driving license and they check my immigration status it was asylee employment authorized my question.does that mean that my case changed from asylee seeker to asylee knowing that I didn’t receive any notice yet

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Tina April 28, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Approved. Congrats! Pray for us.

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Alex April 29, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Tank you i pray for all of us the system said am ander the code AS1 is that mean am approved

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Tina April 29, 2017 at 7:43 pm

AS1 means approved primary Asylee. Congrats once more.

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Mark April 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Dear Mr Jason,
I’d like to ask if aslyum applicant wanna cancel his application ..how can he do that? & what could be the consequences in the future? & after how long he can travel, immedialtly or should wait until get responce from USICS?
thank you.

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Mynation April 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Hello Jason,

I have a question. I am being called for the third interview. The asylum office has indicated that “the TRIG issues were not fleshed out ” what does it and what to expect from the asylum officer?

I would highly appreciate your comment on this .

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Davids April 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm

hi Jason
thanks for the help
Does somebody need to bring the whole family listed on the I-589 to collect the decision of the affirmative asylum interview.
Thanks

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Prabin April 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

Hi,
I am thinking of traveling outside the US and I got confused regarding Refugee Travel Document and Advance Parole.Mu asyulm got approved in feb 2016 and i just filed i485 in feb2017.i already have RTD which is valid for a year . What do I need? Do I need a RTD or an Advance Parole document? I tried to read about it on the USCIS website, but I got more confused.

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spongeBob April 27, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Prabin,

How long did it take to get your RTD?
And may I ask if you are one of the “banned countries”?

Thanks!

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Prabin April 27, 2017 at 5:39 pm

It took me 6 months to get my RTD and no i am not from banned countries

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spongeBob April 27, 2017 at 10:35 pm

Thanks for replying!
6 months isn’t that bad.. Good luck on your I-485! Hope you get approved soon!

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Joe April 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Am from one of banned countries the RTD take me 8 months to recive it

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spongeBob April 27, 2017 at 10:36 pm

8 months is a bit long 🙁
Have you yet applied for Adjustment of Status? I’m curious is anything has changed in terms of waiting time for those from the “banned” countries.

Thanks!

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Arman April 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

Hi,
I am an asylum seeker with pending case and I have received my EAD. When I want to travel from one state to another state in US, should I have my passport or EAD is enough?. For how long my passport should be valid? My passport is getting expired in few months.

thanks.

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Arman April 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

Also, what documents are necessary for travelling. Is the stated ID enough?

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:29 pm

It does not hurt to have both, and a driver’s license, but you should at least have the EAD and your asylum receipt to show that you have a pending case and are lawfully present in the US. Take care, Jason

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Salim April 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

Hi Jason
Can I travel to U.S. Virgin Islands with my pending asylum case or no ?! Thanks

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Thomas April 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Hey Salem,
I shared a story last month about a guy with a pending asylum case who got detained by ICE coming back from the US Virgin Islands.
Take care,

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

I would not – you have to go through customs if you go to the USVI, and you could get stuck there. It would be safer to get Advance Parole (form I-131, available at http://www.uscis.gov) and use that to travel. Maybe it is not needed, but I think it is far safer. If you do not want to get AP, talk to a lawyer to check before you travel. Take care, Jason

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Asylee April 27, 2017 at 1:34 am

Hi Jason!) Could you please help me with my situation. What will happen to my case if I move to San Francisco which asylum office is now interviewing cases from February 2015 and I applied for asylum in December 2015. Will they send me an interview invitation as soon as possible or my case is going to be in the end of the line? How does it work if you’re passed the time frame of the schedule bulletin? The move is necessary because of the job offer that I got.
Thank you!

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm

If you move, you should keep your place in the queue, meaning that if your case was filed before the date on the Scheduling Bulletin, you should get an interview relatively soon (it takes time for a case to move from one office to another. I believe cases are moved by donkey, so it takes a few months). Contact the old office to change your address and make the case is moved, and then contact the new office to make sure they received your place and you keep your place in the queue. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Saba April 27, 2017 at 12:34 am

Hi Jason,

Please write something detailed in a blog post on recent ICE arrest and overall asylum weather.

Thank you

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I will be looking into it, and I will try. Take care, Jason

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Ag April 26, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Hello Jason this happened today at the Miami Asylum office:

Marco Coello, a young Venezuelan man who fled political persecution in Venezuela was arrested by U.S. immigration officials when he showed up for an asylum hearing at the offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Miami on Wednesday, according to his lawyer and family members.

“He’s being detained,” his mother Dorys de Coello confirmed to Univision.

Coello, 20, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents before he was due to begin an interview to assess whether he had a “credible fear” of persecution if he returns to Venezuela, according to his lawyer Elizabeth Blandon

The ICE officers alleged that he overstay his turista visa.

http://www.univision.com/univision-news/immigration/you-cant-send-me-back-to-venezuela-begs-marco-coello-an-alleged-torture-victim-detained-wednesday-during-an-asylum-interview-in-miami

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XY April 26, 2017 at 10:54 pm

It means almost every immigrant is targeted by ICE, unless you are a citizen. No peace of mind, even if you have a strong documented asylum claim.
I am not a lawyer, but whatever ICE is doing is systematic discrimination. That is another thing, if the media spread emothional messages about immigrants but dont go to the deep of the story. Discrimination does not have any magical defination. That is descrimination, when two people appears in a court, one appears because of a minor wrong doing and is detained and considered a national security threat just because he is an immigrant and another appears at the same court because of a major wrong doing and is let to go with proceddings, just because he is US citizen.
I dont like any person who do criminal acts, but I should say that we are all equally human beings.
Deport a person who does not eligible for asylum, but that is wrong when someone is seeking asylum and befor the court decide on his asylum case, is put on a deportation line.

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A April 27, 2017 at 12:53 am

I am shocked and saddened by what happend to this boy in Miami. Hoping it was a mistake and that he’ll be released soon. Being detained for overstaying his visa even with pending asylum case really? In that case who will still go to their asylum interview appointment if they are considering overstaying a visa is crime????
Looking to hear Mr. Dzubow’s opinion on this.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

I was on vacation and I need to look into this. I think it is best to be cautious for now – many people are being interviewed for asylum and this is the only arrest I have heard about. Maybe he has a criminal record (here or in his country) or maybe he is considered a security threat. We need to remain vigilant for other examples, but I do not think there is reason to panic. If I can, I will write a blog post about his case. Take care, Jason

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XY April 28, 2017 at 1:22 am

A good news is that the asylum seeker is released and the bad news is that it was a red light for all the other asylum seekers. Hope Jason would write something about it.
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article147143099.html

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A April 28, 2017 at 4:55 am

He was released on a bond. Just like any criminal that would be detained. What if he was not able to afford the bond? Why was he arrested at first place? I think most asylum seekers are overstays due to backlog, does it mean we’re all subject to detention when we go to our interviews at asylum office??? So much confusion.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Thank you – I was away on vacation (coincidentally, in Florida), and I will take a look at this and maybe do a post on it if I have time. Take care, Jason

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A April 28, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Hi Jason thank you for your input. It seems like more people than we thought are being detained when showing up for asylum interview i saw this question on avvo please investigate and inform us if this is correct. Thank you very much https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/pending-asylum-interview-and-detention-2956167.html

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XY April 29, 2017 at 11:40 am

Hope you enjoyed the vocation.
Thank you

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Sara April 26, 2017 at 10:50 am

Hi Jason,

Thank you so much for all your efforts! I applied for asylum back in 2015, and since then I have been checking the USCIS website frequently to follow the updates, however, for the past year or so, the scheduling in the Arlington office seemed frozen on January 2014 while many other offices have been making progress. I am wondering does anyone know about what is going on in the Arlington office? Any wild guesses? It is just extremely frustrating! Thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

I have emailed them recently and they are saying that they are interviewing cases from March 2014, though the Scheduling Bulletin does not reflect this, so I am not sure what is happening there. They have been doing expedited interviews and second interviews (also, priority interviews), so things are happening there. Whether we will start to see movement on the Scheduling Bulletin any time soon, I do not know. I do think it will start to move, but we shall see. Take care, Jason

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Jun April 25, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Hello Jason,
Thank you so much for helping people and answering questions. I have a pending asylum case. I have been in the US more than 3years on F-1 student visa. I just applied for asylum a few months ago. So far, I received USCIS application receipt and my finger prints done recently. The question is once my EAD recieved ( I assume in next 3-4 months), could I apply for advance parole and leave the US for a week to third country. How safe is it to come back without any issues? Or I shouldn’t do that? Although, I really needed to leave. I don’t have any criminal records and I was always in legal status, even I applied for asylum I still keep my legal status. Thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

You have to wait 150 days after you filed for asylum and then you can apply for the EAD. Anytime after you file (or at least when you have the receipt), you can apply for Advance Parole. You are supposed to have a “humanitarian reason” for the travel, but usually that is pretty easy to show. I have not seen people have trouble returning with AP, as long as you do not go to your home country. Of course, it is safer to stay in the US (especially if you are from a “banned” country), but many people travel and return safely with AP. Take care, Jason

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Nano April 25, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Hello Jason, as I told after my interview I supposed to have the decision tomorrow but the official sent me an e-mail asking me for additional documentation. I’m wondering if you have any idea what can be? Is unusual? How long more is gonna a take? Anxiety is coming again.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:47 pm

It is very common for that to happen. You certainly will not get a decision until you submit the additional documents. Then, they probably have to review it, which could take time. We have seen delays after the interview ranging from a few days to years. If you have given them the documents and have not heard anything in 60 days (or however long you feel like waiting), email them to inquire about the case status. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Joker April 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

Great post. I do want to take up one point made, though, that: “[i]f the system indicates that your “A-number was not found,” this probably means that the NTA has not yet been submitted to the Court.” While I do not know the percentage of issued-but-unscheduled NTA’s are the result of DHS delay in filing, I will say that in a troubling number of cases, the fault lies actually with EOIR receiving the NTA and then simply not entering it into their system, whether because of administrative backlog, or, in many other cases, oversight.

I think your advice to call the local Chief Counsel’s office is spot-on, because if the NTA is not “in the system” for EOIR purposes, they will simply refer the call to DHS anyway. A critical question to ask once one gets on the phone with an ICE attorney is whether the NTA has actually been filed with EOIR, which DHS can verify if they physically have the file. In the event they have filed it and the court needs to be reminded of the prior filing (they will often have misplaced the prior copy), the Chief Counsel’s office can assist them by providing a new copy. Yet another red tape issue that could be eliminated by E-filing.

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Anonymous April 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm

Sometimes the NTA was not filed in the bureaucratic shuffle after a positive credible fear, or it was and EOIR never put it into the system. Either way, some lawyers I have talked to filed affirmatively and then alerted the asylum office to the situation and the NTA was filed.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Thank you for that – It is helpful. Also, as much as I am a Luddite, I am all in favor of e-filing. Take care, Jason

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Urwa mehmood April 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

Hello Jason, really liked your blog. I have a question. I am pending asylum case, and recently got my EAD and social security, I want to study and get admission in a college. Will I be able to go to the college with my pending case. And also what is my status right if I am waiting for the interview? The first question they ask is about status. Thankyou

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Your status is asylum pending (unless you also have some other status). Most colleges accept the EAD and allow you to enroll, but usually you pay out-of-state tuition. You may want to ask the school whether there are any scholarships or fellowships for people like you. Take care, Jason

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Shawn April 24, 2017 at 11:32 am

Hello Jason,

Thank you very much for the time and energy that you put into this blog. We really appreciate it!

My friend and I have two different interpretations of the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin schedule.

See below the schedule for the New Jersey asylum office, for example:

Newark, NJ

1. March 2017: May – July 2014

2. February 2017: February – May 2014

3. January 2017: January – April 2014

I interpret the above schedule as follows:
The New Jersey office is currently interviewing three categories of asylum cases (Cat 1- March 2017: May – July 2014, Cat 2- February 2017– May 2014 and Cat 3- January – April 2014). In Category 1 (the unaccompanied minors who crossed the border) applicants are being interviewed in March 2017, if they filed between May and July of 2014; applications that were backlogged before the new scheduling policy took effect are being in February of 2017, if they filed between February and May of 2014; etc.

His interpretation is that ANYONE who filed between May and July of 2014 are being interviewed in March of 2017; between February and May of 2017 are being interviewed in February of 2017; and so on.

I highly doubt that his interpretation is right. I filed my application in December of 2014 (I am in the 3rd category (I am an adult and simply filed affirmatively in December of 2014). Based on his interpretation, I can expect that they are now in July and would soon get an interview, if all remains equal?

Thank you very much in advance for your response. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

-Shawn

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm

The Scheduling Bulletin is only for category 3 cases. Other cases are given priority and do not appear on the schedule. I do not know why the NJ office gives a range of dates. It may have to do with how they stored cases (for example, maybe certain months are stored together and they pull files randomly from that range of months), but I do not know. If you filed in December, your case should be coming up relatively soon, so make sure you are ready to go. Take care, Jason

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RI April 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

Dear Jason,

I thank you this window that your give us before the desperate hope that most of us live. I have written you on a couple of occasions during these 4 years I have been in the same status as “pending asylum”. On this occasion I am writing to you to know what you think about this process: I applied for a I-131 travel permit on 09/14/16 for the first time because a new position in my work requires me to travel, and I read in some opportunities in your post that it was possible to process this kind of permits, I sent all possible evidence (issued by the company I work for) and received a letter on Friday 04/21/17 where I am asked for more evidence. “Proof of asylee or refugee status”.
1) your form I-94 arrival departure record (that shows your current status as a refugee or asylee).
2) your I-551 permanent resident card (that show that you have been admitted or adjusted to lawful permanent resident bases on a refugee or asylee claim); Or
3) Passport pages, with biographic information (name, country of birth, date of birth) and the page (s) that your immigration status as a refugee or asylee.

But obviously my status is pending asylum, so I do not have any of the above.
What should I send in this case?
I would appreciate very much any suggestions you can give me would be of much help.

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May April 24, 2017 at 11:03 am

If your case is pending, you can only travel outside the US for emergencies. USCIS will likely deny your application as work travel is not an emergency. Even if you manage to receive this advance parole, coming back to the US is not guaranteed.

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RI April 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Hi May,

Thank you for take time to reply to my question. You can go back to this post and read more about the advance parole for asylum seekers. It’s not only for emergencies.

http://www.asylumist.com/2015/01/27/uscis-errors-compound-asylum-applicant-woes/
USCIS Errors Compound Asylum Applicant Woes
by JASON DZUBOW on JANUARY 27, 2015

“As applicant for asylum is eligible for Advance Parole. He can travel for any reason: To see a sick relative, to attend a wedding, to go to a professional conference. So why should USCIS need to see evidence that a relative is ill in order to issue the Advance Parole document? “

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May April 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Well, we already learnt here that USCIS doesn’t really care what is right sometimes. Yes, in paper you may have the right to advance parole but I’ve heard from a lawyer that most advance parole applications are denied unless you provide a lot of evidence of the necessity of your trip.
And regardless of my point above, again, even if you get advance parole you might be turned around at the border since advance parole is not a guarantee of re-entry. Anyway, I wouldn’t risk it. Moreover on a regular basis. Especially when you don’t have a legal status except pending asylum (which is not really a status).

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm

AP used to be more difficult to get, but now, it seems that most NY reason can qualify for a “humanitarian reason” and USCIS will issue the AP. There is no guarantee of re-entry (and you have to be extra careful if you are from a “banned” country), but I have not heard about people having trouble re-entering if they have a valid AP document. Take care, Jason

Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 2:57 pm

You are supposed to give a “humanitarian reason” for the travel, but most anything can qualify for a humanitarian reason. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 11:24 pm

If you get Advance Parole, you should be able to return. You need to give a “humanitarian reason” for the travel, but often times, this can be work related. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 11:18 pm

For some reason, USCIS thinks that you are applying for some other type of document. The form I-131 can be used for different things, so maybe that is the problem. You need to inform them (again) that your status is asylum pending and that you want Advance Parole, and you will also need to respond to whatever questions they have. You may need a lawyer to assist with this. Maybe your employer can pay for that, since the travel is for work. Take care, Jason

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RI April 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Jason,

Thank you so much for your reply.
Do you have an email were I can contact you? Or just by phone?
I would like to have your services on this but I live in Florida and I cannot make an appointment in person.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Joe April 23, 2017 at 7:49 pm

Dear jason
Am one of the six countries got my approved asylum last year and i got my travel documents i want to vist my wife and kids in thired country my quetion is how long i can stay out side US with travel docomend ?

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 10:52 pm

I am not sure – I think you can actually stay out for the validity period of the travel document. However, if you plan to stay outside the US for 6 months or more, I recommend you talk to a lawyer before you go just to make sure there will not be any issues. Take care, Jason

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Asylee April 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

I am living in USA from last 10 years legally. Just got asylum,can I apply for green card ?

or I have to wait for a year ? 9 months?

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

If you want a GC based on asylum, you can apply one year after you were granted asylum. Take care, Jason

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XY April 22, 2017 at 3:49 am

Hi Jason,

A short question; usually how long it takes to get interview reschedule notice. It is almost one month that my interview was rescheduled in asylum office- San Francisco, because I was 20 minutes late to the interview. But I did not hear from asylum office yet.

Thank u

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 8:21 am

You can email them to ask. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. It normally takes about a month, so you should get the notice soon, but it depends on how busy they are. Take care, Jason

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LGBT asylum seeker April 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Hi Jason,

Thank you for all the great info you share with us on here.

If you check the affirmative asylum scheduling bulletin of Newwark, NJ (I think that’s where I should be looking since I live in Boston, MA and Boston is a suboffice of Newark, NJ), that calendar is moving faster than it used to months ago. It’s a good thing for people waiting, but would you say that it’s moving faster than before because the rate of rejection in higher than other offices? I know you work in the DC area, but do you have any information about Boston/Newark offices?

Many thanks!

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Allen April 22, 2017 at 12:04 am

It is really difficult to sat from this update. Newark office has been moving fast since Trump took office, this months, they is another big jump and we don’t know the reason. However, Arlington and Houston offices didn’t move since January. Los angles office is an anomaly this moths and it is showing 2011.8 – 2012.8, I don’t know what it means, maybe system error or maybe they are getting all the help from the returned refugee (from abraod) and asylum officers (from southern border).

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ana April 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

Hi ,

I live in boston as well, but boston suboffice moves much slower than Newark offce (as fas as i know)

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

Also, the LA office is (I think) getting help from an office in Virginia that does credible fear interviews by phone. So maybe that is a factor. Also, it could have to do with how cases were handled in 2011/2012 in LA. Maybe many of them were already finished before USCIS switched to the system where they do oldest cases first (for example, in VA, many cases from 2014 were done in 2014; the “skipped” cases are still being worked on in that office). Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow April 25, 2017 at 8:10 am

I suspect that cases will start to move faster because less people are coming here across the US/Mexico border. Because such people were coming and asking for asylum, and because they were detained, they would jump ahead of “regular” asylum seekers in line. This affected all offices across the US. But, last I heard, the number of people coming as compared to last year was down by over 60%. So maybe asylum officers are freed up to work on cases like yours. We have not seen cases being denied at the asylum office; in fact, we have had a number of cases recently granted (though I think most of those were at Arlington). Take care, Jason

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Manda April 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Hello Dear Jason,

I have asyulm pending case in immigration office ,now k wamt to return to my home because of an urgent issue ,i received an acknowledgement of receipt from us citizenship and immigration SVCS from 5 month ago ,they told me you can remain bere until your asylum application is decided,if you wish to leave while your application is pending ,you must obtain advance parole from USCIS, so because of this factor I mentioned above i don’t have time to botain this parole ,if i go to the airport the custom or any person there allow me to go out side and return to my country with out this parole? ,i have a vaild passport and visitor visa but when i came to here the custom put a return date on my visa ,i had to leave usa before 4 month ago but when i applied for asylums ,the immigration let me to stay here .
I am very appreciate it if you could give me some information about that .

Yours faithfully

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm

You can leave – that is not a problem. If you plan to return with the same visa and it is a B visa, this could be a problem, since they will know you have an asylum case. You probably will be able to return, but you may be rejected at the airport and sent home. You can claim asylum at the airport, but then you will be detained. If you do not plan to return here, then there should be no problem. I do recommend that you contact the asylum office and inform that you left so they cancel your case. This may make it easier for you to return should you want to do that some day. You can find the asylum office contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Farhan April 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hi Jason thank you so much for sharing valuable information this is the topic i was interested as i my case has been pending a while. I filled motion to reopen with immigration judge aka sua ponte , the court recieved Novermber 12th 2105, its been pending since then. When ever i dial my A# it says the system doesnt contain information regarding future hearing date. How do i expediate my motion? I was thinking of changing my attorney and wondered if i hire new attorney how it might effect my case wheather it might delay further or expediate ? Pls can you provide any input or may be your experiance ?

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 3:18 pm

If your case is closed and you filed a motion to reopen, it probably means you were previously ordered deported and now you (or your lawyer) is trying to reopen the case. You can call tat same phone number and press “3” to hear if there was ever any decision in your case. Also, you can call the court directly to ask the clerk about the status of your case and the motion. You can find their number if you follow the link at right called Immigration Court. Take care, Jason

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Summer Chen April 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hi Jason,
Thank you very much for this valuable information. My husband and I filed our asylum application in May 2011. Long story short, after that, our individual hearing was deferred for many times, the very last time was on April 7,2017, our attorney was there, we were there but no one showed up in the court and nobody received any notice beforehand. Today, we received a call from our attorney saying the case had been rescheduled to 2020. We’ve been waiting way too long, and the hearing continues to be deferred. We are really desperate for your opinion on what we can do! Thank you so much!

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Your attorney can file a motion and request an earlier court date. Given all the delays caused by the court, maybe they will consider that and give you an earlier date. At least you can try and see if it works. Good luck, Jason

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Tanvir Uddin April 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

hi Jason, thank you for the column.

just a simple question. Is the NTA served after the first interview (if it is denied)?

thnx once again.

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 3:12 pm

If the asylum case is denied, and you are out of status, they give you the NTA when they give you the decision. Take care, Jason

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A April 20, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Thank you Jason very much for these valuble information. Was wondering if you can also provide data on case backlog for asylum offices?

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 6:14 am

I forget the latest numbers, but it is about 150,000 nationwide. You might also Google “asylum office quarterly stakeholder meeting” and you should be able to find statistics there. Take care, Jason

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A April 25, 2017 at 10:10 pm

Hi sir thank you for your response. I googled and saw the statistics. I have a question please; there is a box/colomn for people who filed affirmatively but were reffered to immigration judge without being interviewed by asylum officers! How is this possible? How can anyone who files affirmatively be reffered to court without getting an interview first? Please clarify. I have filed affirmatively after i became out of status (LA office), will i get a chance to be interviewed in asylum office or will i be reffered instantly to IJ? Please and thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Maybe those people did not show up for the interview. Everyone who files is supposed to be interviewed, and I have not heard about people being referred without an interview, unless they are no shows (and that is pretty common). Take care, Jason

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Cris April 20, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Hi Jason. I’m back to ask a question. My wife and I filed for renewal of our EAD at the same time. How come her renewal is approved and there mailing her new card while my application is is pending. Is that really typical? Thank you very much and God bless you, Jason.

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Tina April 20, 2017 at 7:59 pm

When did you and your wife file, please?

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Cris April 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm

We filed 2nd week of January.

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Tina April 21, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Thanks for the response. I filed 1st week in February.

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 6:12 am

Waiting times vary. Usually it takes between 2 and 4 months. If you are worried, call USCIS – you can find the number at http://www.uscis.gov, but my guess is that it is a normal delay. Take care, Jason

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Cris April 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

Thank you very much, Jason.

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Nevadi April 22, 2017 at 7:58 pm

MY Ead process

Jan 11 filed i 765 with texas service center
Feb 3 transferd to potomac service center.
Apri 10 case aproved.
April 15 got new card.

Hopefully you get it soon too. Good luck.

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Amanda April 23, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Ead process:
Feb 22 i’ve sent all my paper work
March 8 receive a letter that my case was received on feb 27th and still in process.
April 18th case was approved
April 21th card was mailed to your adress

I m still waiting my card. I ve applied asylum since july 2013 and i ve never been call for an interview. Office Los Angeles

K April 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Hi Jason, thank you for the post.
If your case was sent to court and you marry a citizen before date is assigned to your case, can your spouse file for you? Will you have to wait for the court hearing date?

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Jason Dzubow April 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm

If you are eligible, your spouse can file the I-130 petition and you can usually put your court case on hold until that is approved. Then, you can ask the Judge to terminate proceedings so you can get your green card based on the marriage. Not everyone is eligible to do this, and so you might want to talk with a lawyer about that. Take care, Jason

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