Translating Documents for Your Asylum Case

by Jason Dzubow on August 24, 2017

The word “translation” is derived from “trans,” meaning “across” two languages, and “elation,” meaning “to make your lawyer happy.” Or something like that. The point is, if your translations are correct, you are more likely to win your case and so you–and your lawyer–will be happy.

If you think accurate translations are not important, please stay away from my garden.

But many asylum seekers are unable (or unwilling) to pay for professional translations, which can be quite costly. Instead, they do the translations themselves, or they use a friend who speaks “good English” (technically, anyone who claims to speak “good English” does not speak English very well). The problem faced by these non-professionals is that translating documents is not as easy as it looks.

I ran into this problem recently, when a keen-eyed DHS attorney discovered that my client’s translations were incorrect. The client had submitted several translated documents when he applied for asylum at the Asylum Office (using a different lawyer). These documents included a newspaper article, a police report, and several witness letters. The quality of the translations was poor, and so we asked the client to obtain better translations. Unfortunately, the new translator embellished some of the translations. Instead of translating the documents literally, he tried to include what the writer meant (or what the translator believed the writer meant). This problem is all too common. Sometimes, I catch it, and other times, I don’t. In this particular case, the DHS attorney caught the inconsistency, which–to state the obvious–is not great for our case.

Poor translations can cause real problems for asylum cases. I have at least one case where an inaccurate translation resulted in the case being denied by the Asylum Office and referred to Immigration Court (where it remains pending 3+ years later–ugh).

So how do you ensure that your translations are correct? And what happens if you can’t afford a professional translator?

First, any document that is not in English must be translated into English. For each such document, you must submit a copy of the original document (in the foreign language), an English translation, and a certificate of translation (for an example certificate of translation, see the Immigration Court Practice Manual, Appendix H).

Second, the translation should be accurate. This seems like a no-brainer, but in my experience, it is not. Here, “accurate” means that the translator should–as much as possible–literally change each and every word of the original document into the equivalent English word. Some words are not easy to translate from one language to the next. Other words have symbolic, cultural or idiomatic meanings that may differ from their literal meaning (the word “jihad” is a good example). In that case, translate the word literally, and maybe include a footnote indicating the meaning or cultural significance of the word. The footnote should clearly indicate that it is not part of the translation (for example, it could say, “Translator’s note:” and then include the explanation). Other times, the original document is vague or unclear. In that case, the translator should again literally translate the words, but can include an explanatory note. Sometimes, documents contain illegible words. For them, the translator can include a bracketed statement indicating that the text is [illegible].

Third, while I think it is not required, I strongly prefer that the translated text look similar to the original (or sometime like a mirror image of the original, if it is a right-to-left language like Arabic). So bold or underlined words in the original should be bold or underlined in English. If the original text has different paragraphs, the English should follow a similar format. If some words in the original are centered, or shifted to one side or to a corner of the page, the translation should do the same.

Fourth, every word of the document should be translated. For documents where that is not possible (like a newspaper where you are only interested in using one article on the page), the translator should clearly indicate what portions of the document are being translated. In this case, I prefer to highlight the original document to make clear which parts are being translated. Also, for news articles, it is important to include (in the original language and in English), the name of the newspaper, the date, the title of the article, and the author, if any. Certain documents contain a lot of unnecessary boilerplate verbiage (I’m thinking of you, Salvadoran birth certificates), and so a summary translation might be more appropriate. If you use a summary translation, you need to clearly indicate that it is a summary, not a literal translation. Whether all Judges and Asylum Officers will accept summary translations, I do not know, but we use them now and again, and we have not had any problems.

Finally, countries sometimes use different calendars and even different clocks. In this situation, I think the best practice is to translate the date or time literally, and then include an explanatory note (for example, in the Jewish calendar, today is the second day of the month of Elul in the year 5777, and so if a Hebrew document contained that date, the English translation would look like this: “2 Elul 5777 [August 24, 2017]”). Some translators include only the date in our system (and not “2 Elul 5777”), and I have never had a Judge or Asylum Officer reject that, but I still think the better practice is the literal translation + explanatory note.

A related issue is letters from people who do not speak English, including the asylum applicants themselves. If a person does not speak English, but submits an English letter or affidavit, there must be a “certificate of interpretation stating that the affidavit or declaration has been read to the person in a language that the person understands and that he or she understood it before signing.” See Immigration Court Practice Manual, p. 48. “The certificate must also state that the interpreter is competent to translate the language of the document, and that the interpretation was true and accurate to the best of the interpreter’s abilities.” Id.

Lastly, many asylum seekers speak English and can translate documents themselves. This is fine. However, a person should not sign a certificate of translation for her own case. So if you translate your own documents, find a friend who speaks both languages to review the documents and sign the certificate of translation.

Accurate translations can enhance credibility and help you win your case. So either find (and pay) a competent translator or – if you do it yourself or use a friend – take the time to ensure that the translations are accurate and complete. Otherwise, documents that might help your case could end up doing more harm than good.

{ 144 comments… read them below or add one }

Memo September 16, 2017 at 4:18 am

Hi Mr Jason
I really appreciate what you do to help the people
Do you recommend me to apply for asylum myself or to hire an attorney?
I had a consultation with some attorneys and they asked at least for 6000$ fees !
Some attorneys say that even if you have a good case without an attorney it is hard to be approved

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Jason Dzubow September 18, 2017 at 6:33 am

Some people need a lawyer more than others. I did a post about this on July 7, 2016. I also did a post about how much to pay a lawyer on March 2, 2016. Maybe these would help you. Take care, Jason

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George_Me September 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm

Hey Jason,
I applied for Asylum in Arlington office in December 2015. Arlington office is interviewing June 2014 case. New York office is interviewing September 2015 cases. I want to know that if I change my address to New York. I will be early interviewed or not. And What are the chances of winning as compare to Arlington office and New York Office.

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Jason Dzubow September 11, 2017 at 6:29 am

It takes a few months to transfer a case, and so it is difficult to say for sure whether moving will get you a faster interview, but it looks like it probably will from where the Scheduling Bulletin is now. As to which office is better, I wrote something about that on February 25, 2016, and maybe that would you. Take care, Jason

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M September 11, 2017 at 6:51 am

Jason,

Need a clarification: when I applied, I lived in a city that is a part of the Arlington coverage. Now I live in New York, and it’s a part of the Newark coverage. My address was updated in a timely manner. Does it mean that the case was automatically transferred to the Newark office, or it still will be heard in Arlington?

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Jason Dzubow September 12, 2017 at 6:03 am

The case should transfer automatically if you filed the AR-11 change of address form. You can contact Newark to double check. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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L.F September 11, 2017 at 11:10 pm

I’m sorry, you’re wrong
NY is interviewing April 2015!
I’m may 2015
Good luck

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Scopa September 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm

I have checked the uscis asylum scheduling bulletin and found out that it is not updated since June. I think they were not updating monthly anymore.

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm

It’s good question. I have not heard about that, and I expect they will update it, but they certainly seem to be taking their time. Take care, Jason

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Alex September 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Hello Jason Thank you for all your help. I’m going to ask for help with my Senate and House representatives. I could ask to one of my citizen friends to send the request. My question is does this citizen need to live in the representatives jurisdiction?

Thank you again

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 3:16 pm

They do not need to live in that jurisdiction, but they might get better attention if they do. They can also contact their representative and ask his/her office for help. I will say that such “help” is usually not so helpful, but there is no harm in trying. Take care, Jason

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Gonzales September 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hello Jason,

I have a quick question:

In many job applications the following question is asked
“Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status?”

With pending asylum based EAD, how should we reply to this question?

If we select “yes”, many companies immediately reject the application. If we select “no”, they start asking questions in the interview and again reject due to the unknown future scenarios.

Thanks for all your help to people living in “Limbo”.

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Sara September 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I wouldn’t allow an employer to pry beyond the point of knowing that I’m eligible to work in the US, and won’t be requiring sponsorship. Your immigration status is none of their beeswax. But that’s just me.

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Gonzales September 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm

I know how you feel and you’re right. However, that is the fact. They ask and if you don’t reply, they reject. Unfortunately, there is no grey area for them.

Also, most of those systems are web-based automated systems and there is no way to not reply to those questions.

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Sara September 8, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I thought it was illegal for them to ask about your immigration status, and for your employment to be contingent on it. Maybe that’s just NY.
Either way, I hope you land the job you want.

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 3:09 pm

I am not sure about the discrimination laws or whether that questions violate such laws, but in practical terms, I think the answer is “no”. Once you have the EAD, you are eligible to work, and if you win asylum, you will not need sponsorship. If you lose asylum, it is tricky (legally) to get a company to sponsor you, and so that is probably not a path you would take. But I suppose if you want them to sponsor you, you can say yes, and maybe they can help you. I have not been on the job market in a while, but I doubt you will encounter this question very often, though maybe I am wrong about that. Take care, Jason

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Zee September 6, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Hi Mr. Jason thanks for your time helping the needy.
I am an asylee . My wife joined me a year ago now I am fillig 485 for her green card . As you know the form has been changed and more complicated and designed for in person interview. My wife doesn’t know English will it be a problem for her to be approved. Do you have an idea how the interview works ? I am so worried if the the English be come a requirement. Thanks for helping again

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Riz September 8, 2017 at 12:34 am

Hello Zee

If she joined you based on i-730 then I don’t think so she will be interviewed. But if she came on another visa then may be she will be interviewed.

Still we need Jason assistance.

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Starting October 1, 2017, all people who come on an I-730 will be interviewed. Even before, I think most of my I-730 clients have had short interviews before they received their travel documents. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 6:31 am

The form is more complicated and annoying, so you have to be careful. But English is not a requirement and she can attend the interview with an interpreter (and given a recent rule change, she probably will be interviewed for the green card). Take care, Jason

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Anna September 6, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Good afternoon!

After my interview i had waited 9 months and yesterday they sent me intent of deny. They asked me give them more evidences((( What I need to do?

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asylum seeker September 6, 2017 at 2:07 pm

sorry to hear that anna, could you share where did you hqve your interview?

thx,

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Jimi September 7, 2017 at 9:42 am

Anna, I am really for that, I completely understand it is really hard after waiting that long time you have to start again from scratch.. I am also waiting for my decision since 4 months.. Would you mind to discuss your interview experience and what is your nationality..

Thanks

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Sara September 7, 2017 at 9:47 am

Hang in there, Anna; it’s not over until a judge says so. Twice.

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 6:27 am

You need to respond to the letter. Normally, the response must be submitted within 16 days (in other words, your response must be received by the asylum office in 16 days or less after the date on the letter). You need to respond to each point in the letter. You might want to ask a lawyer to help you, though there is little time. If you do not respond, your case will be denied. It is possible to convince them to grant a case even after receiving this letter, but it is difficult. Good luck, Jason

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asylum seeker September 6, 2017 at 11:41 am

hi jason,

i filed my asylum application jube 2014 , two weeks later i did my biometrics, i had my interview three weeks ago , two days before my interview i had receiced a letter from uscis saying that they will be using my old biometrics for any check and they will be no need to do a new biometrics , do you think that carry any sign ? as i heard from many other applicants that they have done a 2nd biometrics as it expris every 15 months ( not sure about the number) , i have a strong case and supporting pictures and affidavit were filed in my case.

thanks,

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 6:25 am

I think it has no meaning in terms of your case outcome. The rules about fingerprints are constantly changing, and some people are printed, while others are not. There is nothing you can do about that, and I think there is no reason to worry about it. Good luck with the case. Take care, Jason

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Sash September 6, 2017 at 10:22 am

Hi Jason, First of all, Thank you very much for helping so many that individuals , families that requires help and advise.
That being said, today I had my master hearing and my merit hearing was scheduled for Aug 2019, It is mind boggling but i have to live with it. My father and my brother was granted asylum about 3 years ago . And during my Master hearing today, the Judge mentioned about confidentially wavier for them ? I am a little confused about it ? Do I have to do anything , send any forms ? I googled it and there was a form from ICE called, PRIVACY WAIVER AUTHORIZING DISCLOSURE TO A THIRD PARTY , Do I have my dad and brother fill that and send it to the courts . I would so very much appreciate your advise. Thank you Jason once again.

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L.F September 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

How long after interview you had to wait for master hearing? And for merit hearing did the judge told the date that day ??
Appreciate your response!.
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 6:22 am

We have had many asylees testify in court for their family members’ cases, and we never had to do this. I am not sure what the judge means, but maybe it is something that they need internally to transfer their files to your judge. Your lawyer should talk to DHS about what is needed. In general, though, we have the asylee write a letter and submit it with a copy of their ID and asylum approval. We file it with all the other evidence. And then they also come to court as a witness. We have never had a problem with doing it that way. I do think you (or better yet, your lawyer) needs to figure out what the judge wants, though, and I think the best way to do that is to talk to the DHS lawyer. Take care, Jason

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Marcus September 5, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Dear Jason,
I was granted asylum this morning. I wanted to address my gratitudes for all the insights you have provided to us during this long wait. You are truly exceptional.
I applied in November 2014.
1st fingerprints in December 2014
2 EAD’s along the way.
Received the letter to appear for an interview in July 2017-Got Interviewed the same month in Newark.
2nd fingerprints in August.
Received the approval by mail after 1.1/2 month.

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Bae September 5, 2017 at 9:54 pm

Hi, please can you please share with me the lawyer you use i also applied at newark and i’m expecting my Interview Soon… thanks

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 5:47 am

Congratulations! Great news, and thank you for sharing the time line. Take care, Jason

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nadi September 2, 2017 at 5:13 am

Hello,
I finally got green card, could you please tell me if i want to submit application for my wife to get green card and come to USA How long time i will wait till she get green and come to USA.

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Jason Dzubow September 3, 2017 at 7:06 am

You can Google “DOS visa bulletin” and there is a chart about that from the government. If you won asylum, and you were married at the time asylum was granted, you can file for your wife based on asylum, as long as you file within 2 years of receiving asylum. Take care, Jason

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Mina September 1, 2017 at 10:33 am

Hi Jason,
Me and my wife and my son got tourism visas, we are a christian and lives in middle east and we face many problem so we will submit asylum, my problem is my name in son passport is mistake as below example:-
My name in my passport :- Gergis Ibrahem Soliman
My Son Name in his Passport :- Mina Garges Ibrahem Soliman
as you see my name is not matched ( Gergis & Garges )
and when we got the visas it is created for each one as our passport names with this mistake.
My question is Dose i will face any problem when i submit my asylum because i will submit one case for all of us as a family ?

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Assuming you are the main applicant, there is a space on the form for you to list any other names you have used (even if the name was just a mistake on your visa). You can also explain this on the very last page of the form (Supplement B). As long as USCIS knows about it, I do not think this should cause you any problems. Take care, Jason

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lola August 31, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Hey Jason,
My question is about green cards after year from asylum approval, based on your experience what is the estimated processing time, have you noticed unusual delays for certain nationalities, it’s been six month since I filed my application and I’m afraid it’s going to be a long wait such as the asylum decision.

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Rayan September 1, 2017 at 7:07 am

Probably waiting is the only answer atm,it’s frustrating but Green card interviews mean combining the backlog of employees who want to adjust their status (to permanent residence) and Asylees/Refugees.Hopefully isn’t as bad and more a routine process.
https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-to-expand-in-person-interview-requirements-for-certain-permanent-residency-applicants

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 5:09 pm

We are seeing green cards taking 9 or 10 months. Things have slowed down recently and everything is moving more slowly. Take care, Jason

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Marcus August 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Dear Jason,
My wife and I applied for asylum in 2014 and recently got interviewed. It’s been 5 weeks since the interview and we are still waiting for the decision to be mailed to us. I remain positive about the outcome though. My wife is the main applicant and the one who fears persecution in her home country (We both are from different countries). Considering the uncertainty of the waiting time, I want to apply for advance parole because of a family emergency. Do you think returning to my home country while our case is being processed (Even as a dependent), will cause me problems to re-enter the US? And what are my chances of actually getting approved for advance parole?
Thanks again for your insights.

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 6:28 am

You have to give a “humanitarian” reason for the travel, but if you do, your case should be approved. If you have AP, you should be able to travel and return to the US. This should not affect your asylum case unless you go to the country of feared persecution (for your wife). One issue is that if your asylum case is granted or denied before you get AP, your AP may be denied. Also, if you are traveling on AP and the case is denied, I do not know whether you will be able to return (I think you will, if you come back quickly, but I do not know). Take care, Jason

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Shawn August 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Hi Jason,

I have been following your this site for the last three years and it has been very helpful in preparing for my asylum application. I want to thank you so much for all your advice and virtual help- we really appreciate it!

I have been granted asylum yesterday; I just want to let you know that you have helped me with my preparation.

I applied in November 2014. Got interview date on August 1, 2017. Interviewed in NJ. Received decision 8/29/2017.

Thank you!

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Aylum Seeker August 30, 2017 at 11:04 am

Congratulations Shawn , i has my interview in Boston aug 14 and still waiting the Decision, the officer didn’t give me any sign whether i had done good or not, hope to hear a good news for all asylum seekers, my question were you told to pick up the Decision or they mailed it out to you ?

thanks

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Aylum Seeker August 30, 2017 at 11:06 am

Hi Jason ,

and do you think that this new Green card rule might slow down the Asylum process as they might assign some Asylum resources to do Green Card interviews ?

thanks ,

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 6:19 am

Asylum officers do not do green card cases, so I do not think it will affect the asylum process. Of course, I don’t know that for sure, but that has never been the practice in the past, and I doubt will change. Take care, Jason

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Shawn August 30, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Hi AS,

Thank you. The office I interviewed with didn’t show any emotions. In fact, I thought the office was unsympathetic to my story; but, as you can see, you shouldn’t read too much into the officer’s expressions.

I was told to pick up the decision in 2 weeks. I did and the decision was there.

I hope you will be rewarded with good news. I tired to relax and take my mind off it. I know this is difficult, but at this point, it’s completely out of your hand.

Have a good day, and really hope you get good news.

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A.S August 30, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Congratulation Shawn. I had a question. Did you got any 2nd fingerprint Notice after the Initial Bio-metric done at Application Submission in 2014. ANy Good News these days is a hope for All.

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Shawn August 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm

A.S, yes I did a biometric a couple days before the interview. They had sent me the biometric letter like 1 week before the interview notice.

Aylum Seeker August 30, 2017 at 3:36 pm

for me they sent me a letter 2 days before the interview informing me that they will be using my first biometric which was taken back to 2014 .

MAZ August 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Congratulations, Shawn
Welcome to US of A,
Regards

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Shawn August 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Thank you MAZ!

AS, that’s good. Saved you the hassle.

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Aylum Seeker August 30, 2017 at 4:25 pm

but hope for good, do you think it carry any good sign ?

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Shawn September 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

AS, I don’t think so. But you are supposed to do a new biometric every 15 months.

L.F August 30, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Congratulations Shawn !!
Hope all of us gonna be granted , this is a hard waiting time for all of us
God bless

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Sara August 31, 2017 at 1:42 am

Congrats, Shawn! 🙂

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Shawn September 1, 2017 at 8:59 am

Thanks, Sara.

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 6:14 am

Congratulations! It is great news at a time when great news is needed. I wish you all the best in the USA! Take care, Jason

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Shawn September 1, 2017 at 8:56 am

Thank you, Jason!

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Lay August 30, 2017 at 7:34 am

Dear Jason
I have a pending asylum case since August 2014,I had to travel outside the US for an emergency so i have applied for a travel document (advance parole) before traveling. After 3 months of waiting my request was denied, the reason was i have left the US before issuing the travel document.
So now i would like tknow what my option are,
1.can i apply for a advance parole from outside the US.
2. Or is it better that somebody else will apply for me from inside the US (i have citizen family in the US).
3. Or aplly for torist VISA.
im in a very critical condition and i appretiate your help.
Regards,

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 6:07 am

1 – As far as I know, this is not possible. You may want to consult with a lawyer to double check, but I think you cannot. 2 – I know of no way someone else can file AP for you – you have to apply yourself. 3 – You can apply for a tourist visa or other visa, though the fact that you had (and maybe still have) an asylum case pending makes it very unlikely you can get such a visa. If possible, you might try to apply for an H1b visa or an L visa – it may be more likely that you could get such a visa. Good luck, Jason

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Chibababa August 30, 2017 at 7:13 am

Dear Jason

I have a question about changing my address whilst my case is pending a decision as I have already went for the interview over a month ago. Do I just fill in the form AR 11?

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Jason Dzubow September 1, 2017 at 6:05 am

For a pending asylum case, file the AR-11. You might also want to email a copy of the AR-11 to the asylum office to make sure they have it (or drop it in person). You don’t want them to send a decision to your old address. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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MIFA August 29, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Hello Jason,
Thanks for all you have been doing so far, you have indeed helped a lot. I submitted Asylum application last two weeks, but the response from the asylum Office was rejected because the address was invalid. Kindly tell me what to do next because I knew the asylum office might have responded with a letter for the fingerprint and acknowledgment letter.

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Jason Dzubow August 30, 2017 at 6:18 am

If the application was rejected, you need to resubmit it. You can find the correct address if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Enter your zip code and find your local asylum office. If you scroll to the bottom, it will tell you your Service Center, which is where you file an initial asylum application (assuming that you have not previously filed for asylum). You can also find the correct address in the instructions to form I-589, available at http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Halwzha August 29, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Dear jason
How can i contact my asylum case’s office? Actually I tried to get their adress but just i found an email adress ,
I want to mention that My case is in Chicago asylum office ,so i want to get their phone number to contact them ,I very appreciate your help
Yours faithfully

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Jason Dzubow August 30, 2017 at 6:16 am

You can find their contact info (mailing address, phone, email) if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Art August 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Good day Jason

Hope you are doing well and thank you for the continued help you give us. I have a question I just received response to a service request that I made for my Intial EAD and the response says my application is with an adjudication officer. In your experience Does this mean I will be having a decision soon or is it just a generic response and means I still have a long wait time ?

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Jason Dzubow August 30, 2017 at 6:14 am

Everything is slowing down, and so EADs are slow now as well. Most people are still getting responses in less than 4 months, but we are hearing about people who have been waiting over 4 months and still no EAD. I think the answer they gave you does not tell you anything, but hopefully, you will get the EAD soon. Take care, Jason

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M September 6, 2017 at 7:32 am

Hello Jason,

I’m also expecting an EAD (the second, though) and also filed a service request a few days ago. Assuming that I also receive a generic response, I will try to contact my congressman asking to make another inquiry. I will probably need to provide some information on my case (like the recipient number, dates, etc.) But what USCIS office the congressman should reach out to? My original (Arlington) or current (Newark; I moved since the application was filed)? Or is it a Vermont processing center? Or does a congressman’s request go to a ‘generic’ USCIS office, and they’re able to figure things out?

Thank you in advance, I just want to provide the congressman with all required information.

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Jason Dzubow September 8, 2017 at 6:09 am

I would just provide the Congressman’s office with your receipts and they should know what to do. I do not think such inquiries are effective though, and EAD renewals are slow now for most everyone – we are hearing about people who filed in April still waiting, though hopefully, they will get the new EADs soon. Let us know if the Congressman is helpful. Thank you, Jason

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Karl August 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Hello, thahks for you help.
I and my wife applied the asylum. I am the main applicant. I was seriously physically persecuted ,I have medical report ,picture that show that. My wife was persecuted due to her work which was not connected to my persecution, even though it was the same group persecuting both of us. However even though I presented a case as main applicants due to the physical harm my threat is not string as the one my wife faced , my wife workplace and colleagues are daily persecuted up today due to their work as journalists.
1.how is writing two stories in one asylum application can affect the case.
2. how about if the officer found that my stories is not consistent to be granted asylum , and find my wife’s story strong , is he gonna grant asylum to us while the strong story is from the dependents.

3.what is considered as strong evidence, pictures ,testimonies,articles,or medical report ?
USCIS doesnt accept two application from spouses.
thanks

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Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 5:52 am

1 – It is fine, though normally only one person will be interviewed. Your wife could file her own independent case, but my feeling is that it is better to have one case and tell both stories in that case (at least in writing). 2 – If the officer does not want to grant your case, he will deny it unless your wife’s case also causes you to fear harm. In other words, if you lose your case, and your wife has a good case, but her case does not create a danger for you, your case will be denied. If you think this is a possibility, you may be better off filing two cases – one for each of you. 3 – All that can be evidence. USCIS will accept two applications, but they may not like it, and so if possible, I prefer to submit only an application for one spouse. You may want to talk to a lawyer about this before you file a second case, just to be sure it is a good idea. Take care, Jason

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Med August 28, 2017 at 3:45 am

Dear Jason,

Thank you for all what you’re doing to help us. I have a complicated question so please bare with me.

I was admitted for a Phd in an american university to start in January 2018. My plan is to apply for asylum once I get to the US because I’m persecuted in my country because of my sexual orientation. My current situation is getting worse every day I keep receiving death threats so I need to leave my country ASAP As you probably know, I cannot enter the US territory earlier than 30 days before classes start date because of this https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html. The research lab offered me to come earlier as a short-term visiting scholar under a J-1 visa (5months) and then changing my status from J-1 to F-1. However, after a quick online research I found that change of status may took up to 12 months. I would prefer to apply for asylum with a still valid F-1 visa status not with an overstayed J-1 visa because I want to still have the possibility to finish my Phd even if I’m denied asylum. Could you please tell me:
1) if changing j-1 to f-1 is in fact a difficult and lengthy process.
2) Can I apply for asylum with an overstayed J-1 Visa.
What do you advice me to do knowing that my top priority is to apply for asylum and save my life and my 2nd priority is to work toward obtaining my Phd degree ? Thank you so much.

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:41 am

1 – I am not sure. If the J-1 visa has a 2-year home residency requirement, that might present an obstacle. Also, USCIS in general is slowing down, and so you might file to change status, but there might be a long delay until you can actually get the F-1 and start school. In addition, if you file for asylum and USCIS knows about that they could deny the F-1 (to get an F-1, you need to promise to leave the US at the end of your studies, and this conflicts with asylum where you ask to stay permanently). 2 – Yes, as long as you apply within one year of arriving in the US. One idea might be to go to a third country and wait there until your F-1 program lets you come here. As long as you are confident that you can get here, the asylum process is quite slow and it is far better to have something to do (like a PhD) while you are waiting. If you are worried that you will not get here on the F-1 (because of the Trump Administration’s nonsense, for example), then maybe you are better off just coming here as soon as possible. Even if you do not get the F-1, you can probably study using the work permit (ask the school about that), which you should receive 7 or 8 or 9 months after you file for asylum. Take care, Jason

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Dave August 27, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Hi guys. Long time reader of forum here. Thank you for sharing. I have a query. I filed i485 based on one year of asylum and did biometrics in July 2017. I heard a new policy to interview all GC applicants starting October 1, 2017. Do you think it’s going to apply to pending cases or to people who apply after October 2017. What do you think will the interview possibly focus on? Thanks

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:33 am

I have not head about that policy yet, but it may very well be the case. Do you have link? I do not know how that will be implemented. Typically, when an asylee is interviewed for a GC, USCIS asks about the questions on the I-485 form. But I suppose they could ask anything they want. The main effect of this will probably be more delay, which seems to be one goal of this Administration. Take care, Jason

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ak August 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm
Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 6:05 am

Thank you – The article is a bit unclear. I think we will have to see how it will be implemented, but certainly it will cause more delay for many people. Take care, Jason

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Dave August 28, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Thanks Jason. Do you think the new policy will apply to cases already being processed or just the people applying after Oct 1? I applied in may and did fingerprint in June. If it’s delayed it’s going to mess up my plan.

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Marcus August 28, 2017 at 10:11 pm

it is unclear wether or not the new policy with affect the main Asylum applicants. It might affect the dependents though. After going through the wait to get an interview, the wait to get a decision, the possible wait if you get referred to immigration court, seeking Asylum seems more and more exhausting. My question is, if the dependents have to go to an interview for adjustment to green card, are they require to bring the main applicants?
Good luck to all and thanks for your support, Jason.

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Dave August 28, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Hi Marcus. My guess is The dependents and the asylees would probably need to attend an interview together. Kinda like how they interview spouses.

Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 6:10 am

I think this is exactly the point – to dissuade people from coming or staying in the US by throwing up as many bureaucratic barriers as possible to make it difficult for them. In my opinion, this is a real disgrace – if you want to ban people, just have the honesty to ban them; don’t play stupid games with people’s lives. As to your question about dependents, I do not know. We will have to see how USCIS implements this rule. Take care, Jason

Dave August 28, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Sorry folks I found the answer myself after abbot of research. The interview is for employment based GC applicants and relatives/derivatives of asylees/i730

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Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 6:11 am

Thank you for letting us know, Jason

Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 6:06 am

I did not see anything about that, so I do not know. We will have to see, but even if it does not apply to you, it could still end up causing more delay since USCIS resources will be shifted to interview people. Take care, Jason

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Bagira August 29, 2017 at 10:49 pm

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.

Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:

Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.

“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”

Conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States. USCIS will meet the additional interview requirement through enhancements in training and technology as well as transitions in some aspects of case management.

Additionally, individuals can report allegations of immigration fraud or abuse by completing ICE’s HSI Tip Form.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis) and Instagram (@USCIS).

Dave August 30, 2017 at 3:54 am

That’s right Jason. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

Jimi August 27, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Life is getting touch day by day for Asylum in USA, now after grant of Asylum we have to give an other interview to get green card and defiantly it will take more time to get green card.. I don’t know where life is going in USA but I am sure life is hard for Asylee. Thanks

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Rayan August 27, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Wait i don’t believe you have to do an interview after wining your asylum case!is this new

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Jimi August 27, 2017 at 5:23 pm

I don’t know it is true or false but it is in the news, please follow the link below. Thanks

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/348092-trump-rolls-out-extreme-vetting-for-some-green-cards-report

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Rayan August 27, 2017 at 7:08 pm

This article mentioned people with a working visa who are applying for GC,Asylum seekers already had to go through extreme vetting and background check.But i don’t know tbh maybe Jason had more info about this.

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:30 am

It is unclear how this will be implemented, but it seems mostly to apply to certain GC applicants based on jobs. It might also affect dependents of asylees, but whether affects the asylees themselves, is not clear. In general, though, things seems to be getting more and more bureaucratic, and the delays do seem to be getting worse. Maybe Trump calls this extreme vetting, but really, it is just an effort to dissuade people from coming here; I doubt it will do anything at all to make us safer. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:26 am

Most asylees do not seem to have an interview for the GC, but it depends on the case. Also, some people have more delay than others, again, it varies depending on the case and on luck. Take care, Jason

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ryan August 27, 2017 at 3:22 am

Hello Jason,
Thanks for the great post.
Will you talk a bit about filing a bar complaint against a lawyer.
Its aim? How to? Why we have to file it? And can a lawyer do something harmful to my case if she knows I file a bar complaint against her?
Thanks so much.

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:23 am

This is a good question. I have thought about this, but the problem is that each bar association has its own procedure to make the complaints. Some bar associations (like NY – see a post I did on March 19, 2012) are useless, while others may be more responsive, and I am not familiar with which is which. In any case, generally, you would have to Google “bar association” + the state where the attorney is barred, and then contact the bar association (usually the website would have a form to file a complaint). Sometimes, such complaints need to be filed to reopen a case that was denied due to the lawyer’s mistake/incompetence (see a BIA case called Matter of Lozada, though there is some intervening case law). If the lawyer retaliates for the complaint by harming your case, that would be a further violation of the lawyer’s duties, and would be the basis for another complaint. Take care, Jason

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ryan August 29, 2017 at 2:30 am

Thanks so much for quick and careful reply.
Best,

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Marcus A August 26, 2017 at 11:52 pm

I had my asylum interview, and now I have a master hearing with a judge. Does that mean that my asylum was denied? Can they arest me while at the hearing and deport me?
Please help!

Marcus

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Jimi August 27, 2017 at 4:42 pm

When and where was your interview, and did you get decision from USICS office after two weeks?

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:15 am

The Asylum Office calls it a “referral”, not a denial. But effectively, your asylum case was denied and you now have to present that case before the Judge. I have not heard about anyone being arrested at a deportation hearing, except in the case of people who have a criminal conviction or who have previously been ordered deported. Take care, Jason

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Marcus A August 28, 2017 at 10:19 am

The masters hearing letter doesn’t mention anything about the asylum case. Please know that I was detained at the border, and released three months after. I was then scheduled for a master hearing in Orlando, but I moved to Atlanta, and so I changed venue. As a consequence, that master hearing court date was taken off my file.
I soon applied for asylum, went to the interview, and know waiting the result.
But now, I received the letter to appear in cort for a masters hearing of removal. The letter doesn’t mention anything about my asylum case being referred to court. Nothing.
Do you think this is the masters hearing being rescheduled in Atlanta or a referral from the asylum office???

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Jason Dzubow August 29, 2017 at 6:18 am

I am not sure why you would have had an interview if your case was in court since the beginning. This can happen to juveniles – usually people under 18 years old who come here without a parent – is that you? Normally, you have to apply for asylum with the Immigration Judge. Also, you should know that the Atlanta court is well known for its very low grant rate. If you can move to another city to do your case, it might be a good idea, as very few asylum seekers win their case in Atlanta. Also, if you do your case there (or anywhere), it is a very good idea to have a lawyer help you. Take care, Jason

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Marcus A August 29, 2017 at 9:12 am

Can I move my case after the interview?? My interview was in April, and I am just waiting for the result. I would like to move to Los Angeles. Does it have a good approval rate??

Thank you,

Marcus A

Alex August 26, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Isn’t this attorney’s job to help with translation, either personally or refer to a good translator.
This sounds like a “I will take your money and I don’t care about anything”.
Thanks.

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

It depends on the agreement with the attorney. If the attorney has agreed to help with this, then he should help, but if that is not part of the agreement (and for most lawyers, it is not), then it is the applicant’s responsibility. Take care, Jason

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Asylee August 26, 2017 at 8:55 pm

What do you think would happen if the situation in one’s home country has improved while still having a pending asylum case? Would that mean a direct denial of the asylum request?

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:09 am

It could, but it really depends on the case. If the situation has improved, the person might need to find evidence of why she still faces harm despite the improvement, or that the prior harm was so severe that she qualifies for “humanitarian asylum” even if the country is now safe. Take care, Jason

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Shawn August 26, 2017 at 9:38 am

Hi Jason,

Hope you are doing great. What if your dependent’s background check revealed a criminal record? Does this affect the decision?

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 5:57 am

I do not think it would affect the outcome of the decision for the principal (unless the crime implicated the principal as well), but it could make the dependent ineligible for asylum, and I suspect it could also cause a delay in issuing the decision in the case. Take care, Jason

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Shawn August 28, 2017 at 8:34 am

Thank you so much for your response.

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Daniel August 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

Jason, all my recent asylum clients have been getting biometrics notices for a single date and time instead of the usual two-week window. Is that happening to your clients too? Any idea why the asylum office(s) introduced this change?

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Yes – We noticed it last week or maybe a bit before, but we received several such notices this week. I guess USCIS thought of a new way to put barriers in front of our clients. This, along with much longer forms, lots of RFEs, and a general increase in bureaucracy seems to be the new trend. I guess it is extreme vetting, though really it is not protecting security, but certainly is wasting everyone’s time, including the poor saps who have to review all these new forms at USCIS. Take care, Jason

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Adnan August 25, 2017 at 5:32 am

Hi Jason. I’m reading your blogs from last 3 years. You did a great job for asylum seekers. You r doing great work. I want to tell u that I did my individual hearing on 22 August and I won the case. My hearing was very good. At the end judge told me that every thing is fine and now u start new life in US. My original hearing was scheduled on 28 Aug 2018 but my attorney wrote a letter for earlier hearing because my family are in problem in my country and judge gave me the date. So every thing going good but judge gave me earlier date that’s why dhs attorney didn’t checked my background so judge told her that submit her background checks in next two months then judge will give me approva letter. So I’m happy Jason that’s why I’m sharing this with you because u help people a lot so thanks again.

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Ahsan August 25, 2017 at 8:02 am

Congratulations 🙂

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Congratulations! I hope you are reunited with your family soon. It is good to hear good news (especially on a Friday afternoon). Welcome to America, Jason

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Adnan August 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Thanks again Jason. And one thing more you wrote a blog that how we expedite the case in court and after I reading that blog I decided that when I will go to court for my master hearing I will request the judge for earlier date. So then she gave me date. So thanks Jason again from my heart. You always answer my questions. Thanks.

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MABB August 24, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Dear Jason,

I’ve been living in LA for 3 years.I’m from Iran and came with my entire family to the U.S. with visitor visa in June 2014.
My husband returned after 45 days and I applied for political asylum in Aug 2014.I was interviewed 2 months later in Oct and received final denial when I was in legal status.I reapply for asylum in June 2015 just one day before first year arrival and switched to another attorney .
I’m married but I’ve been living like a single mom with 2 sons .Our kids haven’t seen their dad more than 3 years.I won DV lottery 2o17.I filled out all applications but didn’t track it .I emailed to my attorney but he didn’t response to me and then I consulted with other attorneys and they said my status couldn’t be adjusted because of my overstaying.My attorney hasn’t responded me and I don’t know may be I have to pay money for more advices from him.
I experienced a burglary one month ago and We just are struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attend in victim support classes.Could I apply to expedite my case because of long time separation from my husband and this stressful burglary?I could get a letter from our famous pastor and author from our mega church.
I failed in my first interview.I have been waiting for my second interview more than 2 years.Does the last failing affect my case to fail again and refer my file to an immigration court?I believe in your immigration knowledge and sure you’ll receive a great grace because of caring people in their tough situation.
God bless u!

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

First, even if you owe your attorney money, that is no excuse – he or she is required to respond to you. You should probably find a new lawyer. Second, you may be able to get status here as the victim of a crime (U visa) – you might want to talk to an attorney about that. Also, you can try to expedite your case. I wrote about that on March 30, 2017, and maybe that would help. Finally, unless something has changed since the last interview, it is very likely that your case will not be approved at a second interview, so try to think about whether there are any changes since the last interview that make it more dangerous for you to return to Iran. Take care, Jason

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Aylum Seeker August 24, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Hi Jason ,

i had my interview 10 days ago in Boston , i have support affidavit that was written by my mom in Arabic then i translated it here by a certified translator whom i don’t think did a very good job, but the General idea was there without Mistakes , my question usually if they have any question about it this affidavit do they contact me or do they refer my Case right away to the immigration court ?

thanks ,

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Ang August 25, 2017 at 11:22 am

Can you plz share your timeline ?

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Aylum Seeker August 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm

sure applied june 2014
interviewed August 2017

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Ang August 28, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Did you expedite your case as the bulletin says they are interviewing ppl from 2013?

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 11:54 am

Sometimes, they ask you about it at the interview or ask you to clarify the affidavit and send them a new translation. Usually, the asylum office is fairly relaxed about translations (I think they are used to bad translations), and so maybe it is ok. Normally, this along would not result in your case being referred to court unless there is an inconsistency, and normally they would ask you about that at the interview. Take care, Jason

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Solo August 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Nebraska!!

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Jamal August 24, 2017 at 11:25 am

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your support. I have granted asylum recently. My family is in my home country. I file the petition to obtain asylum for them. It is pending. As far as I know, though they get derivative grant of asylum, they should have the passport and the us consulate stamp visa on it and only then they will be able to travel to US.

Unfortunately, My immediate family member passports have been recently cancelled by the authorities and they will not have a valid passport any time soon (may be years). They are simply banned to get a valid passport because of me.

Is it possible to get a travel document for them? Is there any way that they can make to come to here without a passport.

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 11:44 am

Sorry, this is a good question and I do not know the answer. One possibility would be to contact the US embassy in your country and ask about this (you should be able to email the consular section). Tell them that you filed the I-730 petitions, but that your family members’ passports have been canceled. Maybe they can advise you. You could also talk to a lawyer in the US to research this question for you. I have not encountered this before, and so I do not know the answer. Good luck, and if you find an answer, please let us know. Take care, Jason

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Elias Zakarias August 24, 2017 at 11:07 am

Regarding the date conversion as you mentioned; Judge John F. G., Jr once complained about this. He stated that a conversion is different than a translation, and the fact of competency to translate does not necessarily imply a competency to convert. Therefore in addition to the “explanatory note” he also needed evidence that the conversion was accurate

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 6:41 am

I love Judge JFG, but he was being a bit nit-picky in that case. Though, as usually, he is technically correct. It certainly would not hurt to have such an explanatory note and maybe a calendar conversion website printout. Thank you for the comment, Jason

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El August 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

Hi Jason, thank you so much for the information you provide for us.
I filed my second EDA on April 13.
Send an enquiry on july , got an answer on july 10 that my file is in waiting list with an officer. Got no answer yet. Meanwhile August 10 I sent my documents for expediting my interview based on health conditions of myself and my kid, and no answer yet. Can you give me an idea of what should I do for both conditions? And how long does it take to get an answer. And the last question is: I am moving from my current address to a new one very close, I didn’t change my address yet, is that okay to send the new address later? Does changing address affect the process??
Thank you so much again.

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 6:39 am

EADs seem to be slowing down again, but you can call USCIS or go in-person to ask. You can find the phone number or make an Info Pass appointment to go in-person at http://www.uscis.gov. As for the expedite, they should give you an answer. You can contact the local office to follow up. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. You are required to change the address within 10 days of moving. Use form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Kristi August 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

Hi Jason,
Always appreciate your help.
Could you explain please,what does it mean “Request for asylum form I589 stamped”? My school requires some documents to verify INS in the USA (domicile in the USA). I would like to bring this one by purpose to get In-state-tuition. I’m pending asylum applicant and all I got I589 receive notice. Do they mean this? Also, I have copy of I589 form;however, it is not stamped. Can I get stump somewhere?
P.S. I don’t know people who have I589 form stamped. Very confusing…..
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 6:37 am

For affirmative asylum cases, you do not get a stamped I-589. If you have a case in court, sometimes, they give you a stamped copy. Your receipt should be enough. However, you could go to the local asylum office and file another copy of your I-589 with your case (actually, you should always file an original + one copy at the asylum office), and maybe they could stamp a third copy of the form for you, as proof of filing. Also, you could file a Freedom of Information Act request (form G-639, available at http://www.uscis.gov) to get a copy of your asylum file. This is free, but it takes several months (maybe 4 to 6 months). If you do that, you should receive a stamped I-589, as that is normally in the asylum office file. In reality, none of this should be needed, but it sounds like the school does not understand much about asylum, and so they are requiring something that most people do not have. Take care, Jason

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Solo August 24, 2017 at 10:03 am

Hey Jason!! As always great article and thank for your help we all are thankful, my initial EAD is under production now so I wanted to share my timeline in case it helps other l!!

June 4 sent my forms
June 9 my application was received
Aug 7 my application was transferred to another office for further process
Aug 21 called uscis and I put on service request
August 23 my case status changed to card is being produced

Good luck to everyone!!

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Jimi August 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Thank you Solo, would you mind to tell which service center you applied and where they transferred you case?
Thanks

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Solo August 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Nebraska!!

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Asylum seeker August 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Thank you Solo.
I am still waiting for my Intial EAD. The case was received on May 10. The same office, Nebraska.

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Aryan August 24, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Hi Solo
May I ask which office did you send your initial EAD form and Then again where did they transfer it ??

Your reply would be appreciated

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Solo August 24, 2017 at 8:41 pm

It was first at Nebraska office then it got transferred to Texas!!

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Jason Dzubow August 25, 2017 at 6:32 am

Thank you, Jason

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Ahmat August 27, 2017 at 11:31 am

Hi! Solo

Thanks for sharing your case! What number did you call and how did you put on service request?
My case was transferred to Tx, maybe I should call them and put on service request like what you did, thanks!

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Jason Dzubow August 28, 2017 at 6:25 am

There is a general customer service number on the http://www.uscis.gov website – Try that. Take care, Jason

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Ahmat August 29, 2017 at 10:57 am

Thank you! Jason

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Jason Dzubow August 30, 2017 at 6:06 am

If you were interviewed already, that office will likely make the decision in your case, so moving will not affect that. You do still need to inform the asylum office that you moved. You can do that using form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow August 30, 2017 at 6:25 am

Thank you for posting – This will affect family members of asylees who are beneficiaries of I-730 petitions. It should not affect asylees themselves (at least not yet). Certainly, though, it will cause more delay for everyone, as it will be very time consuming. Take care, Jason

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