Illogical Fears Generate Illogical Policies: Notes from the Center for Immigration Studies “Asylum Fraud” Panel

by Jason Dzubow on May 17, 2017

This article is by Josh Rigney, the Legal Services Program Manager at the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC). Josh has worked with survivors of torture seeking asylum since May 2012. He holds a Master’s in International Relations and a Juris Doctor from American University. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. The opinions expressed in this article are his alone, and do not represent the opinions of TASSC.

Taking asylum policy advice from CIS is like taking urban planning advice from Godzilla.

On May 10, I attended a panel discussion organized by the Center for Immigration Studies (“CIS”) and titled Asylum Fraud and National Security. Described on the CIS website as a discussion on the threat posed by “the vetting – or the lack thereof” of asylum applicants in the U.S., the panel included three speakers who, at least on paper, appeared to have impressive expertise on immigration issues. Two of the speakers, Andrew Arthur and Mark Metcalf, formally served as immigration judges in Pennsylvania and Florida, respectively. The final panelist, Todd Bensman, is a long-time journalist with degrees in journalism and homeland security studies.

CIS’s tagline is “Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant,” and it bills itself as “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization.” However, CIS is reliably biased, and produces shoddy “research” prone to support any policy that will decrease all immigration to the United States, regardless of the heartless nature of the policy. For example, a recent Washington Post article quoted Executive Director Mark Krikorian speaking in favor of limiting immigration by breeding fear of U.S. immigration policies amongst potential immigrants. Krikorian stated that only if Trump follows through on the fear inspired by his pronouncements on immigration will CIS’s preferred immigration levels be realized.

As an immigration attorney who works with survivors of torture seeking asylum, turning the asylum process into a national security witch hunt would obviously impact those whom I serve. But that is not the only reason the panel’s viewpoints should matter to the broader asylum-seeker community and its supporters. As a recent New York Times article stressed, CIS – designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – and other anti-immigrant hard-liners now have the ear of the White House and congressional policy makers on immigration.

The panelists stressed several points during the event. First, immigrants are a threat to the safety of the United States. Second, while refugees pose a danger, asylum seekers are an even greater threat to U.S. national security. Third, fraud is rampant among asylum seekers. Therefore, the panelists agreed that U.S. policymakers must make it harder for everyone to receive asylum, whether or not a particular individual has a legitimate claim.

Immigrants are Dangerous

To convince the small crowd at the event that all immigrants – asylum-seeking or otherwise – pose a threat to the safety of the United States, each panelist took turns describing his favorite scary immigrant story. Andrew Arthur spoke about Ramzi Yousef, one of the perpetrators of the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993. Bensman spoke of Pakistanis with potential terrorist ties crossing the southern border with the help of a smuggler named Rakhi Gauchan. He stressed that Gauchan believed one of the Pakistanis was a terrorist, and Bensman stated that this person later received asylum.

Of course, relying on scattered anecdotes to draw broad conclusions about all asylum seekers does not make for sound policy. For example, Bensman did not mention whether he actually knew the Pakistani was a terrorist. Indeed, according to his own master’s thesis, American investigators never determined whether Gauchan’s terrorism suspicions were accurate.

As with any policy issue, harping on the inevitable few bad apples does not support throwing all of them out. Overall statistical trends must be analyzed, particularly when the goal is to punish an entire group of people, and particularly one as large as asylum seekers. In the first three months of 2017 alone, 40,899 people filed asylum claims with the Asylum Office. The handful of cases the panelists cited in their comments cannot justify making the asylum process more difficult for all of these people.

What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

A study published by the Cato Institute, an organization founded by one of the Republican mega-donor Koch brothers, determined that the chance that you will be killed by a foreign-born terrorist who is in the U.S. because of a grant of asylum is 1 in 2.7 billion. Between 1975 and 2015, over 700,000 people were granted asylum in the United States. Of those, just 4 have been “convicted of planning or committing a terrorist attack on U.S. soil…”

So what statistics did the expert panel use to support their assertion that all asylum seekers are dangerous? In the only notable mention of actual numbers, Mark Metcalf provided data released by EOIR on the number of immigrants with pending court cases who failed to show up in court for their hearings. However, at no point did he provide any breakdown of the numbers for asylum seekers; nor did he explain how failing to show up for a court hearing is equivalent to committing asylum fraud or posing a threat to U.S. national security.

One of the panelists, in a nod to those in the crowd who felt the U.S. is too generous to immigrants, mentioned that the U.S. “accepts more refugees than the rest of the world combined.” For the record, the U.S., a country of more than 325 million people, resettled 66,500 out of the 107,100 total refugees resettled by all countries in 2015. Canada, a country with a population of approximately 36 million people, resettled 20,000 refugees. Furthermore, Turkey (2.5 million), Pakistan (1.6 million), and Lebanon (1.1 million) all host over a million refugees each. For asylum seekers, the United States received only slightly more applications (172,700) than Sweden (156,400), a country of only 10 million people. Meanwhile, Germany (population of 81 million) received 441,900 asylum applications.

The point is that while the U.S. does offer refuge to a significant number of people fleeing persecution every year, that does not justify the draconian policy recommendations supported by the panelists.

Asylum Seekers vs. Refugees

I can actually agree with some of the panel’s comments comparing the relative threat posed by refugees against the threat posed by asylum seekers. Arthur stressed that the primary difference between refugees and asylum seekers is that refugees are fully vetted prior to ever setting foot in the United States. In contrast, asylum seekers make it to U.S. territory, then seek protection while waiting for their asylum claim to be granted or rejected. Depending on the court or asylum office with jurisdiction over the applicant’s claim, that process can take many years (one survivor from my organization recently received asylum after a ten-year struggle). During this time, asylum seekers remain in the United States without undergoing security checks like those that refugees must pass before entering.

Of course, none of this really matters unless you accept the idea that immigrants are truly a threat – which takes us back to the previous point. Yes, in theory, asylum seekers have the potential to pose a greater security threat than refugees – but that threat is already extremely low to begin with. In actuality, objective evidence that asylum seekers as a group are a threat to U.S. national security is weak at best.

For example, the panelists claimed again and again that fraud is rampant in the asylum system – relying, again, on a handful of selected stories. As evidence of potential security threats, they correctly pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice do not conduct regular system-wide fraud risk assessments. But without such assessments, how did the panelists conclude that fraud is rampant?

“Pro-immigrant”

At times, at least one panelist expressed sympathy for the plight of the tens of thousands of asylum seekers with legitimate claims. For example, Arthur correctly stated that each fraudulent asylum application filed by someone without a claim will cause further delay in the process for another asylum seeker with a legitimate claim. He also paid lip service to the reality that the United States is a nation built by immigrants. Overall, however, the panelists expressed support for several policies that would have a disastrous impact on all asylum applicants seeking safety in the U.S.

Arthur promoted the use of detention for asylum seekers, stating that the longer a person is detained, the less likely that person is to obtain asylum fraudulently. He failed to mention the devastating psychological repercussions detention will have for the thousands of torture and trauma survivors—many of whom are already suffering from PTSD—who would inevitably be thrown into such facilities.

Arthur also declared that any person that transits through another country on the way to the United States lacks true fear, but instead seeks economic opportunity. In response, Mark Krikorian, in the role of moderator, asked if the U.S. should categorically deny asylum to anyone that transited through another country. Arthur suggested that could be achieved through legislation to change the eligibility requirements for asylum.

Bensman suggested that only when we can guarantee the identity of people through unimpeachable ID documents should we allow them to seek asylum. But in reality, the lack of such documentation often stems from the chaos that forced asylum seekers to seek safety in the first place. In other words, his suggestion would bar those in greatest need of protection from accessing the asylum system at all.

Finally, all the panelists suggested that DHS and DOJ commit significant resources to assess the fraud risk in the asylum system.

Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

Notably absent from these policy recommendations was the hiring of additional Immigration Judges and Asylum Officers. Assuming, for the moment, that asylum seekers waiting in the asylum backlog are a threat to U.S. national security, I can’t help but wonder why the panelists never suggested the only solution that would make it easier for immigration officials to spot fraudulent asylum claims.

Mark Metcalf tacitly recognized this concept when he highlighted that good cross-examination, either by a prosecutor or an Immigration Judge, can expose fake asylum claims. The same principle holds for intelligent questioning by Asylum Officers in asylum interviews. With the current backlog of nearly 600,000 cases at the Immigration Courts, and another 250,000 claims before the Asylum Offices, each official responsible for testing the credibility of these claims is heavily overburdened. Relieving that burden by hiring more Immigration Judges and Asylum Officers will help these officials spot the fraudulent asylum claims that do cross their paths.

This solution can lessen the actual problem of immense backlogs and long waits for people seeking asylum. As an added bonus, it would simultaneously address the speculative and over-exaggerated threats that the panelists identified, without denying a path to safety for tens of thousands of people fleeing persecution.

{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Midi September 10, 2017 at 12:41 am

Hello mr jason
I was victim of domestic violence made by my roommate i have proof of case and restraining order
against him .do i qualify for green card based about violence .i let you know i apply for asylum too i’m still waiting the approval from immigration thank you

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Jason Dzubow September 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

Victims of crimes can sometimes qualify for a green card. There are different types of visas depending on the situation. I do not know a lot about this, but I did a blog post on September 22, 2016 about finding a free lawyer. Many non-profit lawyers can assist with a situation like yours (or at least they can offer you some advice), so maybe try to talk to an organization near you. Take care, Jason

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Briana June 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Hello Jason
It is a month that I have submitted my application for my first EAD. However I need to move to anothe states with different jurisdiction of the asylum case. They have to transfer my file.
By changing address can this have a risk of slowing my EAD application. Or can this stop the clock. What risk do my EAD application has by moving before I get it.thanks

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Jason Dzubow June 23, 2017 at 6:32 am

It would be better to not move until you have the EAD, but if you have to move, file the AR-11 on line – make sure you note that you are changing your address for the I-589 (asylum) and the I-765 (EAD). You should be fine. Moving should not stop the clock. Take care, Jason

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kerin June 15, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Hello Jason,
You truely are a life saver and an authourity on this subject, thank You.
My family and I just went for fingerprints last week on the premise of political assylum,
My question is do I need statement from the police in my country already to back up my claims of assault and treat to my life in preparation for our interview however long it takes.
thank you

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Jason Dzubow June 16, 2017 at 6:58 am

If you can get such a statement, it sounds like it would be helpful to your case, but without knowing about your case, I cannot say for sure. You may want to consult with a lawyer to go over your case and recommend what evidence would be helpful. Take care, Jason

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Jacob September 2, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Hi Jason. I applied for asylum and have at the moment my EAD and SSC. Now I want to expedite my case because of humanitarian reasons. Can I use your service and what are conditions. Please replay to my e mail address. Thank You in advance

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Jason Dzubow September 3, 2017 at 7:06 am

You can email me at [email protected]. Take care, Jason

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Sady June 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Hi Jason. Thanks for your updates.
Need your kind advise. I am on asylum here with my 2 US citizen kids. I am a converted Christian. From being Muslim to Christian. I applied for asylum in Houston in 2016. By when can I expect interview. If God forbid they decline how long will the case take to process in higher courts for further appeals. My son is 16. I need 5 years for him to sponsor me. Your advise wud be highly appreciated.

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Jason Dzubow June 16, 2017 at 6:50 am

You can get an idea about when the interview will be if you check the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin – a link is at right. If your case is sent to court, that process is variable. It could take a year or two, or more than five years, depending on your judge and the case. Take care, Jason

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lulu June 12, 2017 at 9:27 pm

in my view, the U.S. is in a huge need of all kinds of immigrants more than ever. there’re just many domestic graduates not even qualified for getting a job honestly. high tech field, all sci & eng labs,,,construction building….everywhere!! if immigration stops, there would be a huge shortage of workforce around the country!!

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lulu June 12, 2017 at 8:47 pm

sry I didn’t get it that clear for you, what I meant was before entering into the U.S. I had a transfer in Canada and for sure I stayed for a few hours for my next flight to the California. I just didn’t get it why it didn’t work or cause anything suspicious?

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Jason Dzubow June 12, 2017 at 10:23 pm

I doubt this will have an effect, especially if you did not leave the airport in Canada. And if you had your asylum interview and the officer did not ask about this, it also makes me think it is not a factor in your case. Take care, Jason

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lulu June 13, 2017 at 1:58 pm

The officer asked about that as a routine question of i589 but didn’t sound make that part as a crucial sth, and we just went through that as other normal questions. Thank you Jason! p.s. I went out of the airport for a couple of hours I had the valid visa for both countries.

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lulu June 12, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Hi Jason, your website is a place where all people in need ask and answer everything relating to the asylum topics which is awesome!! I do appreciate!
I’ve read some concerns about the panel and wonder why people entering to the usa through a transfer via a third country can be a problem. I have a few hours stay at an air port in Canada, do you think those suggestions can make my case approval more difficult?? My interview was hold the late March and I am stilling waiting for the decision to be made.
Thank you Jason!

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Ismail June 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Hi lawyer Mr Jason
That ‘s great to read this forum.
I have concerns I fled my country two year ago and found myself in the Unuted states .
I filed application for political asylum .I am not involved in politics, I don’t belong to any political movement and never been part of any political party. I was persecuted due to the fact I was not in,I was about to loose my life. My parents are part of politics and are active and they are under threat of our government. I decided to leave the country. However even though my parent are under threat they don’t want to leave ,for them they want to politically keep the struggle even if if they can be killed .They can’t at any moment leave, they have many occasions to leave but don’t. My question is, considering that I m not in politic and parents political activities ,does the officer believe how myself be eligible for political asylum.
Is it possible to not be part of political party or political organisation and claim political asylum.
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow June 12, 2017 at 6:21 am

You can claim asylum based on “imputed political opinion,” meaning that the bad guys believe you are political because they associate you with your parents. You may also be able to claim asylum based on particular social group, if the bad guys want to harm everyone in your family, including you. We have done many cases like you describe, where the principal person remains behind to do their political activity, but where the family members also face risk and they leave to seek asylum. In fact, we won such a case last week for the wife of a high-ranking government official. You will need to explain why your parents are still in the country, but hopefully you can do that (maybe they can write a letter explaining it). But based on what you say, you should have a chance for success in your case. Take care, Jason

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Maps June 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Hi Jason
I filed for asylum as a family and we have one file, myself, spouse and three children. Our case is still pending but we applied for work permits and SSNs which we now have. I wanted to find out how do i apply SSN for my children as well as it is becoming hard for them to be accepted services without it.

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Jason Dzubow June 8, 2017 at 5:12 pm

You would have to talk to the Social Security office or check their website online. If the children are in school, the school might also be able to assist with this. Take care, Jason

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Gabe May 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm

I recently received my first EAD as pending asylum applicant but it says ‘fingerprint not available’ should I worry about this? I took biometrics after sending asylum application. Also, I applied for social security number, I believe this one will be stamped will ‘for work only’ an I right? Thank you!

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Jason Dzubow May 28, 2017 at 6:41 am

I do not know about the fingerprint statement on the EAD. But if you have the EAD, you should be able to work and get the SSN. The new SSN shuold say that you can work with employment authorization. Take care, Jason

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JN May 29, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hey Gabe,
I am in the same situation. I received my EAD first week of March. I don’t think it’s a problem because I got a job and working. A background check was done and was clean.
No need to worry bro. All the best

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kar May 31, 2017 at 2:02 am

Hi,
does it mean that you did not do biometrics after filing for your initial EAD? Myself, I have not gotten another biometrics notice since i filed for my initial EAD over a month ago. I only did it when i filed my asylum paperwork.

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JN May 31, 2017 at 10:13 am

Hi Karl,
I did not do biometrics after I applied for my EAD. I however don’t think it’s the issue since I have a friend who didn’t do biometrics but her fingerprintson are available. I don’t really know.
But I am working, applied for my state id and driver’s license. I don’t think it’s a problem. I didn’t even mention it to my attorney Jason.
All the best

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Jason Dzubow June 1, 2017 at 6:17 am

Normally, you do not need to be fingerprinted to get the EAD based on a pending asylum case. Take care, Jason

Florence May 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Hi Jason

I ran away from my country to the U.S. 2 years ago due to how I was treated as a gay. I did not know that LBTQ people could apply for asylum due to their sexual orientation. I spoke to a lawyer this year and he said I can still apply, however he would submit a waiver on my behalf for having missed the one year mark. I would like to know if u have represented anyone that has applied after the one year deadline, if yes how did u approach this case and what benefits were they eligible for?

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Jason Dzubow May 28, 2017 at 6:28 am

A person who fails to file within one year of arriving is barred (blocked) from receiving asylum unless the person meets an exception to the one-year filing rule. Not knowing about the rule is not a very good excuse and is unlikely to succeed. If you were lawfully present in the US the entire time (on a student visa for example), that is a good excuse. If you were traumatized and thus unable to work on your case, that is also a good excuse. Other excuses include changed circumstances (it was safe before, but something changed – like people at home learned you are gay – and now it is unsafe), you were under 18 years old, or you had another application pending that was denied by USICS. There may be other excuses as well, but they can be used – and we have used them – to allow people to overcome the one-year bar. Take care, Jason

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Aryan S May 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Hey Jason,

I have a question. I recently had my asylum interview back in January of this year. I filed for asylum when I was 15, so it took 6 years to finally get interviewed.

I am an Iranian National who was born in Germany but brought here with my parents when I was 2 years old. I grew up in the USA since then and have recently obtained a bachelors degree. My parents fled due to discrimination from his employer who would not hire him for not being a devout Muslim. In my interview I identified myself as an atheist who believes in US constitution. I have voiced my fear of the Iranian government and lack of understanding of the rules, customs, language, etc. What exactly are my chances? please help, it is a horrible feeling growing up in a country for 20 years only to be at risk of getting kicked out when none of this was in my control

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Jason Dzubow May 26, 2017 at 6:25 am

It is difficult to evaluate the chance for success from your message. It seems to me that your best bet (at least based on what I see here) is the atheism. People who leave Islam face punishment in Iran, and there are reports from the US government and news articles about that. I suppose you will have to wait and see about the decision. If you are denied and sent to court, you may have other options in addition to asylum, such as Cancellation of Removal and maybe DACA – talk to a lawyer to evaluate your case and go over the options. Good luck, Jason

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Kar May 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

Hi Jason,
how long does it take to do the biometrics after receiving the receipt for initial EAD? or can anyone please share their timeline for initial EAD, please?

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:32 am

Normally, you do not do biometrics after receiving the EAD – you just have to wait for your interview. Initial EADs seem to take 2 to 4 months. Take care, Jason

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Neeswa jane May 24, 2017 at 10:40 am

Hi Jason
I have a question, if my asylum case is pending can I get a domicile from where I live and how?
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:31 am

I do not know what that means, sorry. Once you have your work permit, you should be able to get a driver’s license, which is proof of where you live. In some states, you can get that even before you have the work permit. Take care, Jason

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MAZ May 24, 2017 at 12:25 am

Hi, Jason,

GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!

You are helping people like a light house in the ocean of Asylum seekers, I have been waiting for my decision for last 8 months now and 2 months ago I went to the office in NY and they told me that it’s pending preparation of written decision and they are not telling me any things else now I have a doubt that they might have send my case to HQ for review, my question is why USCIS has not help by telling about the exact case status or at what stage is at. I have been separated from my family for last 3 years and now I am suffering from severe depression that I couldn’t tolerate this wait any more. The most worst part is that I already suffered a torture and harm in the past and I feel this waiting has done more torture and harm than the past, now I start feeling that I won’t be able to see my family again,
Is there any thing …. any thing I can do
Thanks
MAZ

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MAZ May 24, 2017 at 12:28 am

I already waited 26 months for interview so in total my application is pending for 34 months
Thanks
MAZ

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MAZ May 24, 2017 at 12:30 am

How do I know whether they send my case to HQ for review? because I have already read your article in this regard but none of that clause applies to me!

Thanks
MAZ

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:20 am

Cases are usually delayed due to security background checks, so that may be the reason; and it may not be at HQ. If you email them, you can specifically ask whether it was sent to HQ if you want. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:19 am

I agree with you that this is a major problem, and I wish they would be more transparent and at least tell you what is going on, especially for people waiting to re-unite with family. Maybe you can send the asylum office a short email explaining about the family separation and mentioning any particular hardships you and your family are suffering, and then ask if they can give you a time frame for the decision. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. You can also try the USCIS Ombudsman (a link is also at right). They are supposed to help with delayed cases, and maybe they could at least provide you with some additional info, which might be helpful. Good luck, Jason

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MAZ May 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Thanks Jason
GOD BLESS YOU

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xy May 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

Hi Jason,
You know I had an interview last week. It went well, now I got two concerns. One, I used to work with Ministry of Interior Affairs in my country, it is same like Department of Homeland Security of US. My asylum officer asked me about nature of my job, and if I had authority to detain or question anyone, I explained to her that I was in the civilian part of the organization, same like USCIS, dealing with identity and citizenship issues in our country. I provided my work certificate as well. Now I am worried if only working with such an organization would push my case to a long inquiry?
second, I think (but not sure), I made a mistake in a date, the month was correct, but the year was wrong (2013-2014). Although I had too much evidence, and she did not ask me about many dates.
-Afghan
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:13 am

It is possible that such work will require a longer background check, but unless there is something more specific about your job duties, I doubt that it would be a manor issue. A mistake on one date will probably not be such a big deal. I suppose you could send a letter noting the error, but I am not sure whether it is better to leave things alone, if all else was good. I represent a lot of Afghan clients, and their cases are very frequently (but not always) delayed after the interview, especially for men. So I think you may face delays regardless of the job, so just be patient and hopefully you will get a good decision soon. Take care, Jason

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XY May 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Thank u Jason

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Mike May 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Hi Jason,

Have you had any experience with gay asylum seekers from Russia? Or maybe there is some reliable approval statistics that can be found online? I’ve been waiting for my interview for almost 4 years, and with all those changes in the government I’m getting worried that the case might be denied. Thanks in advance

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:12 pm

We have a few such cases – in general, such cases are strong because country conditions in Russia are poor, but it depends on the case. I have seen no changes in the US government that would adversely affect gay asylum seekers from Russia. Take care, Jason

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Mike May 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Hi,Jason;
Thanks your website information. It’s help me a lot.
I apply asylum in Utah.my I589 status is pending for interview,the asylum office is Huston. now I’m in Florida.I have a EAD card and plan to apply for SSN and driver license. I hesitate to stay Florida or Huston.Because Huston interview schedule is early.If I stay Florida,I need to change the asylum office from Huston to Miami.I have some question need your help.
1)If I Chang my alyssum address from Utah to Huston,I need mail to Huston asylum office and USCIS address change request.How Can I make sure the address change successful?Asylum office will send me the confirm address changed mail?
2)Can I apply for SSN in Florida? I already have a EAD card.Is there any issue If I apply for SSN in Florida when I interview by Huston asylum officer.
3)Do you know the information of the New Orleans Sub-Office of the Houston Asylum Office pass asylum rate?Does it more difficult to pass than Huston?
Hope your reply.Thanks very much!

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:09 pm

I previously replied to this. Take care, Jason

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Maria May 22, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Hello !
I now have work authorization for 2 years ,my asylum is pending
I confused because I got here on someone passport ,and now I can get job at airport but to get ID for this job they need to check my background with fingerprints and Homeland Security
Do you think I can apply for this job or better not ?
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:02 pm

If you gave your true name and info on the asylum application and EAD, I doubt there is any problem applying for the job. If you lied on the asylum application, it might show up on the airport background check (and it might cause real problems for your asylum case too – so you hopefully you did not do that). Take care, Jason

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Maria May 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Thank you so much for your answer, it helps and yes everything on asylum application was true,
I hope will be ok
Thank You Jason

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John May 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Dear Jason, hope all has been well.
I always appreciate your help. I have applied asylum Feb 2017 in Arlington and want to check what months are interviewed these days.
I heard that applicants from Dec 2014 are interviewing.
Could you please give me some advice?
Thanks

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John May 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm

Dear Jason, hope all has been well.
I always appreciate your help. I have applied asylum Feb 2015 in Arlington and want to check what months are interviewed these days.
I heard that applicants from Dec 2014 are interviewing.
Could you please give me some advice?
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Check the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin (a link is at right). I think they are interviewing cases from February or March 2014. Things are moving faster over there now, which is good. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Check the Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin (a link is at right). I think they are interviewing cases from February or March 2014. Things are moving faster over there now, which is good. Take care, Jason

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john May 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Thanks a lot Jason

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Hill May 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Hello Jason. I had an interview on May 4th in Houston office. The Interview went well. I was supposed to pick up my decision on May 16th but after one week the officer contacted us and said we made our decision but we can not tell you until background check clearance and do not come to pick up, we will mail you decision when it is ready. I’m a woman from Muslim country and I got my finger print done for a first time when applied on May 2014 and for a second time one month before my interview.

Could you please advise me based on your experience how long normally takes for them to do background check and receive decision in mail?

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Allen May 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm

First, congratulations! it means they approved your asylum but background check is waiting. It may take a couple of months for background check. hopefully you will have your answer soon. please be prepared to wait for up to one year.

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 9:50 pm

I do not agree that it means the case is approved. We have sometimes seen cases with long delays that were denied. Hopefully, she will be approved, but until the decision arrives, I think there is no way to predict for sure. Take care, Jason

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Paul May 22, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Hello Hill, how did you apply in Houston and Jason is it a good idea to get a lawyer out of your state to represent you. Thanks

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm

I think it is better to get a local lawyer if you can, but it is not necessary. It is just easier and (usually) less expensive. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 9:48 pm

There is no time frame – we have seen cases take a few days or 3+ years (and counting). People from Muslim countries are often slow, but men are usually slower than women. Most women’s cases we have seen take less than 6 months, but it is not really possible to predict. Good luck, Jason

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Hey Jason,
I received the letter from uscis two days ago. And they referred my case to the court. In Newark.
My question is.. if I moved to a different state, can I transfer my case to that state? Or their the one who deciding (immigration judge) wheather to keep in Newark or move that to current location of mine?
Also do I have the full power to move my case where ever I go?

Thank you Jason.

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Allen May 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Can I ask how did you feel about the interview officer in Newark office?

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Allen May 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Did they give any specific reason why they refer you to judge?

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Hi Allen,
It was tough Allen. They interviewed me for 4 hours, and she wasn’t satisfied at all. The only thing they said were, you can fight in the court. That’s it.
But my lawyer said on of his client, did the interview few days ago, they only interviewed him for just one hour that’s it. And the officeer was satisfied.

Good luck Allen

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Don’t worry about anything because your case is different my case is different. You will be ok. Be strong that’s it!

Allen May 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm

sorry to hear that. one of my friend was interviewed by a very young officer for 4 hours in Virginia and he was also referred to Immigration Court. it seems to me that you need luck sometimes..I requested for expedite 3 weeks ago in Newark office, let’s see what happens.

MAZ May 21, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Hi, Dose

Sorry to hear that your case has been referred to immigration court, can u please share you time line when and where you interviewed, thanks really appreciated you response in this regard,

Take care, MAZ

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Hey maz,
Applied 2014/07
Recieved the notice 2017/04/15
Interviewed 2017/may/01 at Newark office

Good luck

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Allen May 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm

for the reason to refer to the court, the officer gave the reason as” country conditions inconsistent”. did they give you any reason such as “not credible enough ” or testimony is inconsistent?

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Yes, country conditions inconsistent.

TruthSeeker May 22, 2017 at 12:20 am

Hi Dose,
Sorry about your case. Which country are you from?

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MAZ May 21, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Thanks

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Generally, if you move to a new location, the Judge will transfer your case. You can let the judge know about this in advance by filing a Motion to Change Venue. This could avoid an extra trip to court. After you move, you should (hopefully) find a lawyer in your new area to help with the case, and this lawyer can file the papers to move your case from NJ to wherever you live now. Take care, Jason

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Dose May 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Thank you sir!

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XY May 21, 2017 at 10:48 pm

Hi guys,

Sorry Dose to hear that, hope u will make it in court successfully. Have faith. We pray for u.
And as a short question, does short interview means a success? Last Thursday I had interview, my interview was just 50 minutes, of which more than minuets were spent on corrections in my application form. I had evidence, she gone through evidence and asked me some question about my background and the threats I had received, and that is it. Does it mean my interview went well?

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Allen May 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

It looks like she satisfied with yours otherwise she would have asked many questions! Good luck!

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Jason Dzubow May 22, 2017 at 6:16 am

I have not noticed any correlation between the length of the interview and whether the case is granted or denied. In court, it is a different story, as they tend to spend less time with cases that are strong. However, at the asylum office, I have never noticed any connection. Take care, Jason

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XY May 23, 2017 at 12:29 am

Thank u Jason,
Makes sense, there should be some criteria on what case to grant and what to deny.

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nagham May 22, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Hello, congrat that ur interview went fine 😉 I want ti ask u what kind of evidence were with u ?

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XY May 22, 2017 at 8:45 pm

Hey Nagham,
Thank u, the kind of evidence that she did not have any doubt on it: thr threats I received, and the reasons I got threats.

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nagham May 24, 2017 at 9:03 am

u mean u had written threats which u show to her ?

Asylum seeker May 22, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Hi XY,
I’m very glad that your interview has bees rescheduled. And hope that you will be granted. So how long did it take to be rescheduled. I am still waiting for my interview.

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XY May 22, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Hey Asylum Seeker,
Thank u. I had first interview scheduled for 22-March-2017, but I was late and they rescheduled it.
I got the reschedule notice 35 days later for 18-May-2017.
Hope u will get the notice soon. My interview went well but let’s see what comes the coming week that I would go to pick up the decision.

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Alex May 21, 2017 at 9:27 am

Hi dear Jason , thanks for your time and patience with your helpful answers to every single question.
I’m and asylee applied for Adjustment of Status I485 from Virginia, applied more than 5 months and got my travel documents, but my I485 status is “” Fingerprint fee was received “” the question is: can I travel to overseas while my Adjustment case is pending?
All ways appreciate your attention and helps
God bless you

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

You can travel, but you still need to use a Refugee Travel Document to travel and re-enter, and of course, you would need to be here if you are given an appointment with USCIS. Take care, Jason

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Yodha May 20, 2017 at 11:52 pm

Hi Jason,

I was just checking the statistics of 2017 year and I really shocked, New York is the worst office for asylum approval, percent ranges from 10-14% which is the lowest rate compare to previous year. If you share the reasons beyond this decrease, that will be great help. It’s looks like they are just getting rid of the backlog and making situation more worse. Thanks

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 10:37 am

I have not seen those statistics, and I do not know. It may depend on the types of cases they have. For example, Central American/Mexican cases tend to have lower grant rates, and if there are many applicants from that reason, it could skew the statistics. Or it could be that they are just getting tougher, but that is not a trend we have observed yet, at least with our cases. Take care, Jason

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Yogha May 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Thank you Jason, USCIS has released Jan-March 2017 statistics! You might be right there is too many people with referral after deadline that might be the cause of my confusion!!

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Allen May 21, 2017 at 9:27 pm

OMG. You are not wrong! too many referrals (interviewed) int this report. referral after deadline is a separate category. If you compare approved cases with referrals(interviewed), New York (130-445), Miami(54-194) and Boston offices (18-79) are the worst! San Francisco(252-82) and Los Angles (397-195) are the best as always. Other offices are around 40% approval. New York office has completed 1064 cases while others did 200 to 600. It seems that NewYork office is rushing to complete cases with quick referrals. Jason may do some research about this.https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED-Affirmative_Asylum_Statistics_-_March_2017.pdf

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Yodha May 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

These statistics are really confusing, if we calculate only interviewed referral than there isn’t such different before and after Trump administration, and one thing as Jason have mentioned there is more people from Mexico and other countries are filling asylum, and they there approval rate is decreased as TRAC immigration site. To get accurate result I might have to research about referral after deadline; are they referred after interview or without interview? Because if they are referred after interview then it is worrisome! but if they are referred without interview then there isn’t any such difference before and after December last year. I hope some one with good maths background will sort this confusion..

Jason Dzubow May 22, 2017 at 6:12 am

I don’t have much insight to this – It would be helpful to know what nationalities are interviewing at which offices, as some nationalities are more likely to be denied than others (Mexican and Central American cases have a high denial rate, for example). There is a book called “Refugee Roulette” about the variability of decision-making in asylum cases. I think you can find the most relevant portions on-line. It is very interesting, but by now, it is a bit dated. Take care, Jason

Med May 20, 2017 at 9:13 am

Hi Jason,
Thank you for everything you do.
I am a gay man from Tunisia where Homosexuality is a crime punishable by 3 years of prison and where re subject gays to Anal tests. I am currently in Tunisia but I will come to the US in august under an F1 visa (I got admitted for a Phd program). I have 3 questions:
1/ I was never detained in prison in Tunisia and was never subject to persecution from the government but since I am gay and active in a local LGBTQ NGO, I can get arrested at any time and be subject to anal test. Do I qualify for asylum ? Is my case a strong one ?

2/ Does the fact that I have previously lived in the US ( for a year under an F1 visa ) while never applied to asylum will make it harder for me to apply for asylum this time ? The reason for this is that I did not know about asylum for LGBTQ before

3/ After filing my asylum application will I still be able to travel internationally with my F1 visa to attend conferences ? And If I’m ever denied asylum will I have to drop my Phd program ?

Thanks a lot

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

1 – It is hard to evaluate the case with this info, but it sounds to me like you would have a decent chance for success. It would be important to know if you were ever threatened, or if other people like you were detained and/or harmed. 2 – This could be an issue, and you will need to explain why you were in a safe country and then returned to a country where you fear harm. If the only explanation is that you did not know about LGBT asylum, that is a pretty weak explanation, and so you should think more about this issue. 3 – You could have trouble returning to the US, and you should apply for Advance Parole (form I-131, available at http://www.uscis.gov), which would allow you to re-enter. You should be able to complete your PhD as long as you maintain lawful F-1 status during the entire time you are in school. Take care, Jason

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Nazru May 23, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Plz contact me on my e.mail: [email protected]

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Yodha May 20, 2017 at 1:02 am

Hi Jason,

I have a simple quiere, my asylum interview last for around one hour but officer took two hour two review my case because we sign in on 7:30am till 9:30AM we didn’t get the call for interview, so my attorney ask from the front desk they informed her that they have singed my case at 10:00AM officer is reviewing my case. I am curious how officer will access my case in one hour and he was but young around 25-30 age. I am also prepared for worst! I would like to consult with you about my case for further steps! Is there any consultation fee for it? Thanks

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Allen May 20, 2017 at 11:11 am

Hope you get approved soon. it seems that most officers in all asylum offices are very young now. I don’t know how a 30 years old can be compassionate enough to understand asylum seeker’s real situation. if you have a strong case and and the officer didn’t behave like interrogating you, you should be fine. One of my friend had a bad luck with with a young officer, who wanted to find an excuse to deny him at the very beginning and basically interrogated him for 4 hours, couldn’t find any inconsistencies to deny him but at then end still deny him just saying that country condition is inconsistent, which is bullshit! But I’ve also heard positive results from young officers. I hope yours will be fine. in Which office you made the interview?

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Yodha May 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm

New York..

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Sara May 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Ugh..only hearing bad things about the NY asylum office which I’m expecting to be interviewed at soon…
What month did you apply, Yodha? April 2015 here.
I’m sorry things went that way with your interview, and hope it’s no indication of what the outcome is going to be. Also hoping that the officer’s age has no bearing on his empathy level, and ability to assess your case. From the comments I’ve been reading on here, it’s starting to sound like they receive little to no training, and just want to whizz through the backlog at any cost.
Anyway..I wish you all the best. Hang in there!

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Yodha May 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I hope every thing will be in my favor. I applied in Feb 2015, so be ready for interview. I have heard they have supervisor who go through the case and interview of applicant, if supervisor will be unexperienced than we can’t do any thing. Moreover I am minority from Muslim country it might give them excuse to refer the case to court, but beyond interview and collecting evidence I can’t do anything!! One suggestion please don’t relay on your attorney they got money and they don’t care if you loose the case, the only one who will loose that will be you and you! Review your case thousand time before go to interview, if you find any mistake in your case call your attorney, email him, don’t relay blindly on attorney.

Sara May 20, 2017 at 2:47 pm

My reply seems to have made it to the bottom.
Here it is again:

Thanks a lot for the advice 🙂 I will keep it all in mind.
Minority from a Muslim country here as well.
And you’re right: All we can do is go in well-prepared with all the evidence and support material we can gather.
Good luck. I hope you get your case granted very soon 🙂

Yodha May 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

What country you are belong to. I am from Pakistan..

Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

I think their training is actually pretty decent, but because (at least in my local office) they do not stay in the job that long, they are not so experienced. By the way, although I have limited experience in the NY office, all of our cases done there have been approved (so far), so I do not have any negative feelings towards that office. Take care, Jason

Lulzim May 23, 2017 at 6:34 pm

I’m hoping we get interviewed this year.
I think maybe ours interview is gonna be in 2018 around march…
I applied in may 2015 NY

Lulzim May 23, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Yodha , in what office was your interview in NY, bc I heard there are 3 offices ??

Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

In my experience, most of the officers are pretty good (but not all). It does help to have more experience, but unfortunately, at least in my asylum office (Virginia), they do not stay in their jobs for that long. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 7:44 am

There is no way to know what happened before the interview – they might just have told you that he was reviewing the case, but maybe he just slept late or had a dentist appointment. Normally, they spend some time before hand reviewing the case and preparing for the interview. The officer himself will make the decision, but it must be approved by a supervisor. You are welcome to email me about a consultation, but I think there is not much to do since you are now just waiting for a decision. Take care, Jason

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rsv May 21, 2017 at 11:11 pm

hi Yodha,
Why do you believe that if you are minority it will give them excuse to refer your case to the court. It is a good reason if you are minority and have been persecuted bcoz of your believe.

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Reeni kahtur May 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm

First of all I would like to say that your blog is very helpful, and I really appreciate how you help people by giving them your precious time..
I have few questions regarding my asylum.
So I filed my asylum in late 2015, I’m still not interviewed , I live with my kids here and all of us got social security and eads, what if I want to buy a house here ? Am I able to buy a property with my hearing pending?
Secondly my son wanted to join a college but when he went for admission they told him that he has to re apply for a student visa in order to study in the college. There is no way for such case to study in the college. Any idea how do he apply for a college or university with his case pending, or adjustment of status ?
Last question if we all are granted asylum, when can we apply for a green card and when can we visit our country ?
Thanks Jason

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 7:39 am

You should be able to buy a house in the US. Your son should be able to attend school (though, he will pay out-of-state tuition), and he should be able to attend with an EAD. If the school does not accept that, he can look for a different school, as most allow people to enroll with an EAD. If you receive asylum, you have to wait one year and then you can apply for a GC. As for visiting your country, it is not a good idea, but it is possible, depending on the circumstances. Once you are US citizens, you can probably visit the country, but again, it depends on the circumstances. Take care, Jason

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Therese May 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Hi Jason. Could you please elaborate more when you said “depends on the circumstances”. Would you mind giving an example in which it’s not possible for a person who got their US citizenship through asylum to come back visit their home country? I though once they’re US citizen, there wouldn’t be any restrictions on where they go, no? Thank you very much indeed!

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Normally, there is only a person if it is discovered that the original asylum was fraudulent. So if the return trip causes the US government to think your original asylum was fraudulent, you could have trouble. Given that the Trump Administration is trying to be tougher on immigrants, I think it is better to be cautious, but if you have a good reason to return, most likely, you will be fine. But if you have doubts, talk to a lawyer before you go. Take care, Jason

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Elyas May 19, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Hi jason!

My friend applied for asylum on 10 april last month its been one month and 12 days he hasn’t received his receipt while I received my receipt within one month- is there any changes recently happened within USCIS?

Please guide me he is worrying alot

Thanks

Elyas

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 7:32 am

Make sure it was sent to the correct address. If so, email the local asylum office to ask if they have it. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. If not, your friend probably needs to re-send it to the correct address with an explanation that another copy was sent to the wrong address. Take care, Jason

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Sara May 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Gotta love the proposition to just detain all asylum seekers indiscriminately. Detain the fraud right out of them. 🤜🏻

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Sara May 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

(Sarcasm.)

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Jason Dzubow May 19, 2017 at 6:02 pm

Maybe we should throw them in the water. If they float, they are a witch and we should hang them. If they sink, they are not a witch…

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Sara May 19, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Salem1692 likes this.
😀

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 7:26 am

ICE2017

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Sara May 21, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Indeed!

Therese May 20, 2017 at 12:05 am

I was not intending to comment here but your reply cracked me up Jason. Good sense of humor! 🙂

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Aryaan May 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

Hello Jason

Hope you doing good and sound. I have two question if you please reply me in detail??

1: what does exactly mean by Back ground check by DHS or FBI or whatever in an asylum application process and what are the factors involved during check ??

2: Can an asylum seeker adjust his/her status by marrying in USA after the period of stay expired ??

Thanks in advance

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Jason Dzubow May 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

1 – They check your name against various data bases to determine whether you are a terrorist or a criminal, or a threat to the US. 2 – If the asylum seeker entered the US legally, even if his or her status expired, the person can usually adjust by marrying a US citizen. There are exceptions, and sometimes, even if you entered illegally, you can adjust by marrying a US citizen. Talk to a lawyer to determine your eligibility. Take care, Jason

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Aryaan May 19, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Thank you so much sir. Really appreciated.
God Bless you

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Runner May 18, 2017 at 4:48 am

Hello Jason ,

Hope everything is good with you . I have a serious question regarding my status , would it be harmful if I apply for asylum after my B1/B2 visa expires ? My visa expires on May 27 , 2017 and I cannot return to my country , will this in way affect me ?
Thanks and I truly appreciate your response

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Jason Dzubow May 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Whether you apply before or after May 27 will not affect your asylum case (though it may block you from changing status later, if that is an option for you). The important date to remember is that you must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the US. If you wait until after one year, you will likely be barred from receiving asylum. Take care, Jason

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Mary May 17, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Hi Jason ,
Thank you for everything u do !
When they are scheduling interviews they look at the date when I received the paper from the office with the number saying they received my asylum application right ? I submitted the papers maybe 3 months before I actually got the paper saying we received your asylum application and you can stay here. ( I did it with a lawyer )
My question for today is , do they ask for tax return before/at the time of the interview ?
I also emailed you couple weeks ago for a consultation as I’m very unhappy with my lawyer !

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Jason Dzubow May 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

Normally, we do not submit tax returns, but you can if you want to. Also, they will look at the filing date, which is listed on the receipt. Hopefully, I responded to your email; if not, try me again. Thank you, Jason

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Mynation May 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm

” No one leaves home unless the home is the mouth of a shark.” Said a great poet.

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Tina May 17, 2017 at 4:19 pm

APT!!!

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Jimi May 18, 2017 at 11:29 pm

“My Country
I don’t have any caps left made back home
Nor any shoes that trod your roads
I’ve worn out your last shirt quite long ago
It was of Sile cloth
Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair
Intact in my heart
Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair
In the lines of my forehead
My country
-Nazim Hikmet”

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Elizabeth May 21, 2017 at 11:54 pm

It’s just so beautiful to see people pour out their hearts in poems
Truly home is where there is peace,love and acceptance
Wish everyone the very best.

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MaRia P May 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Thank you for all your time and effort in keeping us posted with latest news. My question is, due to the long wait time period for an interview is there another way to get to a green card. I Enter US on May 14, submitted my asylum petition in June at Houston Office. I haven’t had my interview, my employer is willing to sponsor a PERM and I140 is it possible without leaving the Us? Also I have tried to access the affirmative asylum process link with no luck. Is there any other? Thank you in advance

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Jason Dzubow May 18, 2017 at 10:47 am

You cannot check asylum cases on-line. If you are still lawfully in the US (on a B visa or other visa, and your period of stay has not expired), you may be able to adjust status and get your green card without leaving the US. However, it depends on many factors, and you would need to talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case. Take care, Jason

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Med May 20, 2017 at 9:17 am

hi

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Sara May 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Thanks a lot for the advice 🙂 I will keep it all in mind.
Minority from a Muslim country here as well.
And you’re right: All we can do is go in well-prepared with all the evidence and support material we can gather.
Good luck. I hope you get your case granted very soon 🙂

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Sara May 23, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Hi Luzlim,

I’m thinking a lot, lot sooner. I’m actually expecting to get the letter in about a month.
Scary stuff, but I’m so ready to get this over with.

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Jason Dzubow May 22, 2017 at 6:14 am

I have not analyzed any numbers yet, as it is still too soon into the new Administration, but my sense – at least with my cases – is that so far there is no real change at the asylum office between Obama and Trump. I am not sure it will continue that way, but at least for now, I am not seeing any difference. Take care, Jason

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