On the Benefits of Having a Lawyer

by Jason Dzubow on December 11, 2017

A recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (“Immigrants Need Better Protection–From Their Lawyers” by Professor Benjamin Edwards) laments the poor quality of immigration attorneys, and postulates that as a group, “the private immigration bar now contains the worst lawyers in all of law.”

It’s easy to know which barber to choose (hint: Barber A), but finding a good immigration lawyer can be more challenging.

The author’s primary solution to the problem of “incompetent” and “predatory” lawyers is to track the success rate of each attorney and then make that information public. In this way, potential customers (i.e., people being deported) can make more informed decisions about their choice of counsel.

Among practicing lawyers, Prof. Edwards’s solution was largely panned as unworkable, ivory-tower thinking. While I generally agree that there is a problem (which I’ve written about in a charmingly-titled piece called, Do Immigration Lawyers Suck?), I also agree with my colleagues that Prof. Edwards’s solution is unworkable (if you’re interested in why it is unworkable, here are some thoughts from Jennifer Minear at AILA).

While some immigration lawyers are less-than qualified for their jobs, it is none-the-less true that having a lawyer for an asylum case significantly increases the likelihood of a good outcome.

A new report from TRAC Immigration provides some specific data about asylum cases and representation. The report breaks down the statistics by country, which is quite helpful, as asylum seekers can look for their country, get a sense for how many of their landsmen are represented, and see the success rate for represented and unrepresented applicants. The report covers Immigration Court cases only (from FY 2012 to FY 2017), and does not include cases at the Asylum Office.

The bottom line is this: For almost all countries, asylum applicants with lawyers are two to four times more likely to win their cases in court, as compared to unrepresented applicants from the same country. There are, of course, some caveats.

One is that, people with good cases are more likely to have attorneys. This is because people with money, educated people, and people who speak English all have an advantage navigating the U.S. immigration system. Such people are more likely to find a lawyer, and they are also more able to present their cases. People who are detained, who are not educated, and who do not speak English will have a harder time presenting their cases, and will also be less able to obtain representation. In that sense, I think the statistics exaggerate the benefits of having an attorney.

But even considering these socio-economic factors, the difference between represented and unrepresented applicants is pretty significant, and in the face of these statistics, it’s hard to argue that lawyers don’t help, Prof. Edwards not-with-standing.

What’s also interesting here is that lawyers provide a multiplier effect on the likelihood of winning. So, for example, an unrepresented case from China has about a 21% chance of success, while a represented case has about an 82% chance of success—a difference of almost four times. And, of course, 82% is a lot better than 21%. A case from El Salvador, on the other hand, has only about a 4% chance of winning without a lawyer, but has almost a 17% chance for success with a lawyer—again, a difference of four times, but in absolute terms, the difference of 4% versus 17% is a lot less significant than 21% versus 82%. Put another way, when the average Chinese applicant hires an attorney for her asylum case, she appears to be getting a lot more for her money than the average Salvadoran applicant.

Why should this be? Why should a lawyer multiply the chances of winning rather than increase the likelihood of victory arithmetically by, say, 10 percentage points across the board (so that the Chinese applicant would go from a 21% chance of success to 31%, and the grant rate for Salvadorans would increase from 4% to 14%)?

The short answer is that I don’t know. Maybe one explanation is that asylum seekers from certain countries present claims that more easily fit within the legal parameters of our asylum system. So cases from China—which often involve political or religious persecution—are more amenable to a grant than cases from El Salvador, which often involve a fear of harm from criminals. Our asylum law quite clearly protects people fleeing religious or political persecution, but it offers little for people fleeing crime. Under this theory, lawyers representing Chinese applicants can help ensure that their cases are presented in a manner that meets the requirements for asylum. It is more difficult to do this for Salvadorans. Or put in more classic terms, even a great lawyer can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Another interesting tidbit from the TRAC numbers is the level of representation in each community. Almost 96% of Chinese applicants had attorneys. Contrast that with Salvadorans, who were represented in only about 73% of cases. Looking at the top 10 source countries for asylum seekers, Haiti had the lowest rate of representation—only about 56% of Haitian asylum seekers had lawyers.

Finally, while it may be somewhat early to discuss trends since President Trump took the helm, the numbers for FY 2017 show an increase in the absolute number of asylum cases decided by Immigration Courts (from 22,312 in FY 2016 to 30,179 in FY 2017) and in the percentage of asylum cases denied (from 56.5% denied in FY 2016 to 61.8% denied in FY 2017). While these numbers are not encouraging, the upward trend in asylum denial rates actually began in FY 2012, under President Obama (denial rates have steadily risen from 44.5% in FY 2012 to 61.8% today).

So what are asylum seekers to make of all this? It seems to me that the most important take-away is that a lawyer in court can significantly increase the likelihood of success, as long as that lawyer is competent and makes an effort to help you with your case. I’ve written previously about the cost of a lawyer, and what the lawyer should do for you. I’ve also written about how to find a free lawyer if you cannot afford to hire one. If you are careful, if you ask questions, and if you make an effort to find an effective attorney, you can greatly increase the possibility of winning your asylum case in court.

{ 183 comments… read them below or add one }

Hasan Ali January 2, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Hi Jackson,

I`ve heard rumors that the cases of the Turkish asylum seekers that were once the government employees back in Turkey have to be decided by Washington in addition to the immigration judge. I don`t know what it means when people say Washington but for these people`s cases, is there another government branch that has a say in the asylum decision apart from the immigration judge?

Thank you so much
Hasan Ali

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Jason Dzubow January 3, 2018 at 6:33 pm

I have not heard about this. Some cases have to go to headquarters, which is in Washington, DC. I wrote about that on October 20, 2015. Maybe that post would help. Take care, Jason

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Hasan Ali January 5, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Thank you Jason

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Yene January 2, 2018 at 12:19 am

How you doing , saying happy new year to you and your family , I was hosting my case which has been refereed to the court and with no hearing date on the referral paper and asking on line when my hearing date but they have telling me that it does not contained any information date on the hearing date so
1 – what should I do to get the hearing date
2- is that because of not transfer my case from my locst asylum office or from the court
3- l would like to be you my lawyer in the court for hearing , so do you available for me to be lawyer if so would you high light me your appearing charge in the court and how do I contract you to get start and talk about my case
Thanks for you time and again happy new year

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Jason Dzubow January 3, 2018 at 7:37 am

1 – It is not predictable, as it depends on your court and your judge. You can call 800-898-7180 and type in your Alien number. When you press 1, it will tell you your next hearing date. If you are not yet in the system, or there is no hearing date yet, you can call back every few days to check. 2 – It takes time to transfer the case and schedule the first hearing. 3 – I am in Washington, DC. If you want me to be the lawyer, you can email me at jdzubow@dzubowlaw.com. Take care, Jason

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Lp December 27, 2017 at 6:58 am

Hi
I was granted asylum 2008, became citizen on 2015
Does anyone tell me about traveling my country with u.s passport,

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Jason Dzubow December 27, 2017 at 9:38 am

Normally, this is not an issue, but if you are concerned, you can talk to a lawyer about the specifics of the case to make sure there are no issues. Take care, Jason

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Sarah December 26, 2017 at 11:09 pm

I just wanna thank you for the advises you continuously share. I have been with my lawyer for almost 3 years now. He helped me file for my asylum case 3 years ago but I hardly heard from ever since. If i have any question he takes days no reply to me I call him never answers. I file my cases and work solely to file my ead card and my kids’ all type of cases. I rely heavily on your advices. Now I want to add my husband who recently joined me but it’s been a week now he didn’t reply. I’m thinking of moving my case to another lawyer but I know nobody. I would like to have you as lawyer or i would love to have your recommendation on any other lawyer.

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Jason Dzubow December 27, 2017 at 9:32 am

First, you can contact your asylum office and ask about how to add your husband. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Second, it is the holiday time, and so I expect lawyers (including this one) are replying more slowly for the next week or so. However, if this is a real problem – that the lawyer is not responding – you need a new lawyer. It is probably best to find someone local. If you want to contact me, my email is jdzubow@dzubowlaw.com, but I probably would not reply until next week. Take care, Jason

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Sarah December 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Thank for your reply. He actually did reply to this morning but after a third reminder. I guess it’s just the holidays season as you said. I will wait until after new year holiday and start chasing him. I will probably get to you if I need any further help.

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Daniel December 21, 2017 at 1:13 am

Another reason I think clients are more successful with lawyers is that lawyers add a certain intimidation factor, regardless of the lawyer’s actual skill. Of course, we know that USCIS officers will happily laugh off a lawyer’s argument if they’re confident the law is on their side, but they’re less likely to casually bully an immigrant who has a lawyer.

Case in point: I had a client who was verbally abused and yelled at for having the temerity to apply for U.S. citizenship while his child by a previous marriage was being ably and generously cared for by his family members abroad. He then came to me for help, we submitted the evidence that his son was not neglected, and I wrote a brief showing that the specific means of caring for his son that the officer had demanded was legally absurd. I got him his citizenship. While I’d like to say it was great lawyering on my part, the applicable legal standard was really very simple and undoubtedly well known to the officer. The mere arrival of my G-28 and my brief in the mailroom probably had more impact on reversing the officer’s decision and course of behavior than the actual arguments I made (if the officer even bothered to read them).

So while having a lawyer isn’t a magic bullet – we’re not wizards who can save anyone from removal by a few magic words – we are to some degree a talisman against the cowardly pushing around that some government workers feel free to use against people who can’t vote.

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Thomas December 21, 2017 at 1:42 am

I honestly agree. The fact that form G-28 needs to printed on a blue paper only obviously is one of the factors that play into it. They want packages that contain a form G-28 to stand out. Its very likely they’re treated differently too, since they know there are a set of experienced/aware eyes watching USCIS’s every move/response.

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Jason Dzubow December 21, 2017 at 7:24 am

I like this theory. Thank you, Jason

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Jason Dzubow December 21, 2017 at 7:20 am

I think this is a good point, and it is why I recommend people bring a lawyer to the asylum interview, even though usually the lawyer does very little. If there is no lawyer, the asylum officer can do as she wants, but if there is a lawyer, they have to act appropriately. I happen to think that the large majority will act appropriately regardless of whether there is a lawyer, but some will not, and maybe this is a factor that helps account for the statistical difference. Thank you for the comment, Jason

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Tina December 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm

I am looking for a lawyer in Central Florida. Humbly speaking,
Pro bono or payment plan. I am a single parent and as poor as a church rat.

Thanks.

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Jason Dzubow December 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

I did a post on September 22, 2016 that might help. Take care, Jason

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Tina December 22, 2017 at 8:36 am

Thank you Jason.

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Alex December 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm

hey Jason,
My interview letter has been lost like 2 weeks ago, then I contacted the asylum office and Tank God they told me the date and time of my interview. 2nd thing I was expecting my work permit letter few days ago and it has been also lost!
N.B. I didn’t change my address. Also in each time I see my letters images in the daily informed delivery but I don’t deliver them. I went to the post office and they said once we found it we will contact you! this is weird isn’t it? what should I do for my work permit?

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Jason Dzubow December 20, 2017 at 7:12 am

Maybe you need to get a better mailing address – you could get a P.O. box with the post office, or use a private service for this. It is not expensive, and it is secure, though you will have to check the box often, so make sure it is somewhere convenient for you. You can change your mailing address using form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov. Remember to change the address for all your cases (I-589, I-765, etc.). Take care, Jason

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Thomas December 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Dear Jason,

I’d like your opinion on a topic roaming in my head. I won asylum almost a year ago, and it is time for my “adjustment of status.” Obviously most asylees and asylum applicants obtained some type of non-immigrant visa before leaving the country from which they fear. I personally obtained a b1/b2 visa in 2015 and used it to come to the U.S. When your clients adjust their status, do you:

1-Adress in an affidavit the willful misinterpretation that took place on the clients non-immigrant visa application/interview and just point out that it was for the greater cause (hence fleeing persecution)?; or

2-File form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability along with form I-485 for every one of your clients who adjusts their status; or

3-Ignore the willful misinterpretation because obviously USCIS is aware that all asylees reserve their immigrant intent, and that USCIS overlooks this ground of inadmissibility when adjudicating their application for adjustment?

I’d like your opinion (and the opinion of everyone who reads this). I am so not ready to fall back into immigration limbo right after having to battle through my asylum application.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:26 am

1 – It depends, but you certainly need to mention it. If USCIS thinks you are covering up something, that will make matters worse. I wrote about this on November 13, 2017 – maybe that would help. 2 – It depends on the case, but normally, I would only file that if USCIS asks for it. 3 – Do not ignore it – mention it and don’t give them an excuse to deny your I-485 because you failed to mention this (even though they already know about it). In your case, it is probably worthwhile to have a lawyer assist you with this case, as there seem to be some potential issues to be careful about. Take care, Jason

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celia December 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jason,
Apparently, there is a backlogged too when applying for a refugee travel document. I’ve been waiting for my RTD for more than 3 months now. Is it that in most cases it takes 6 months to process the application or does it vary?

Thanks again for everything you do.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:23 am

In the past, RTDs arrived pretty quickly – maybe 3 months. But everything is slower now, so I am not surprised to hear this. Unfortunately, I do not know the time frame, as our last RTD was received in about 3 months, but that was several months ago. Take care, Jason

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Mero December 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Hi Jason,
Merry Christmas for you and your family,
I just want to know how can put my case in shortlist, and i’am staying in a state that have a sub office , so how can i tell them that i agree to go to the head office and make my interview at the head office and don’t wait they come to sub office.
*that is any forms should i fill it for shortlist or make my interview in head office, or what can i do ?

Many thanks Jason

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:20 am

You should contact the local office (the main local office – not the sub-office) and ask about this. They should be able to help you put your name on the short list. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Not all offices have short lists, so be prepared for that too. Take care, Jason

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Sumaya December 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Hey, when the USCIS offices close for christmas holidays? And hen he open back? If anyone knows, plz?
Thank

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Sara December 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Hi Sumaya,
I’m not sure if there’s a way to find out in advance. They update this page almost daily, though:
https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings
Hope this helped until Jason replies.

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Sumaya December 18, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Thanks Sara,
I will be looking the mailbox… waiting and waiting

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Sara December 18, 2017 at 10:23 pm

I’m between mailbox trips and checking on the “my case status” tool 536 times a day.
I think the next time I’m asked for my phone number, I will blurt out my Z number instead.
The struggle is REAL.

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Political Asylumist December 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Don’t worry Sara. Hopefully, you will get your approval soon. You at least got the recommended approval. For me, I still wait after 8 weeks since my interview. I know people will say 8 weeks is too little but it is not (psychologically it is like eternity). I check case status page every hour, every day, day and night.

Sara December 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

It can always be worse, Political Asylumist; you’re right about that. And thank you for the encouragement.
I’m sorry it’s taking so long for you to hear back from them. 8 weeks is not too little. No amount of waiting upon the 2+ years we wait for the interview is too little. This is one of those “it could be worse” situations, but the fact that there are people who have been waiting for years does not make your wait time (however “short”) any more bearable or easier to tolerate.
I’m glad I have been initially approved, but as we stand I am still an asylum applicant (not an asylee), and waiting for the final approval is tedious and still stressful because there’s no telling how long it will actually take. There’s no timeframe just like every other waiting period in this process. It’s like my husband said, “I’m tired of constantly waiting for something to come in the mail”, and this has been our lives for the past 3 years whether it’s waiting on EADs or interview notices.
Anyway, we need to stay positive and hopefully we will all hear something soon.
Have a good one. 🙂

Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:16 am

I think Sara is right – they should probably only close on December 25 and January 1 (we have an interview scheduled on December 26 in NY, so presumably, they are open. Take care, Jason

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Sumaya December 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

Oh thanks God,
Thanks Jason, it strengthens me that 26 is open. I thought if it is off till 5th Jan, then how I and political asylumist would be considering three weeks as three …? As Sara is lucky, at least got approval.
God bless us all

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bass December 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Merry chrismas Jason and all the followers of the blog and happy new year. which moth NY office are working on now in new york Jason is as per the schedule (september ) or April as what they say when we call and ask over the phone
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow December 27, 2017 at 9:23 am

I would expect that the schedule is according to the on-line bulletin, and I do not know otherwise. If you call them and they tell you something different, maybe they know something, but I would ask why they are telling you one thing and the Bulletin is saying something different. Take care, Jason

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bass December 27, 2017 at 11:12 am

Iam so confused Jason thats why I asked you because as you said you had a case in NY yesterday and I wanted to know was it according to the schedule i mean your client filed in September or April or what is exactly happening over there in Bethbage office
Thank you Jason for being the only one who understand and answer our inquiries and take us out of this mess

Sara December 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

Hey Bass,
I had applied in April 2015, and got interviewed in November 2017.
Our fellow NYers on here who applied in May and June 2015 also got interviewed in November 2017.
I know someone who applied early June 2015 who got their interview invitation letter for early Jan. 2018.
Hope this helped.

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bass December 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Hello Sara, thank you very much for clearing up the confusion. i see that some people who filed within the rang from April-June got the invitation letter but i’ve not heard about the period from
July-September so are they picking randomly from within all this period of time. I filed in November 2015 and when the schedule made that big jump few month back i started to prepare myself but again went to freeze stage, lets just pray, wait and see
hope you get any updated regarding your decision soon dear.

Sara December 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Anytime, Bass, and thank you 🙂
The October bulletin update said they were all caught up to September 2015, and Celia and I were confused because it seemed like they skipped our months. We both called the asylum office, and a gentleman said that they were still on April 2015, and that he doesn’t know why the bulletin was saying something else. They went on to correct it in November by giving that range — they should have just said April 2015 then, but seeing that they had already said September 2015 in the October update, they probably didn’t want to make it look like the progress is regressing and decided to go for this range instead.
So, according to my friend who has an interview coming up, they will still be doing June 2015 cases in Jan. 2018. November should be in a few months, and it can’t hurt to start preparing and making sure you have any additional support material you may like to include, or updates on documents you already submitted when you filed.
Hope you get the notice soon. All the best 🙂

Broken December 18, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Good afternoon Jason. I contacted my asylum office to inquire on the status of my case but here is below their response. Do you think that it is just a standard response or there is something wrong with my case?
Good Morning,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) records confirm that your client’s cases stated below are still pending at this time. USCIS is committed to adjudicating immigration benefits in a timely and efficient manner while also ensuring public safety, national security and compliance with all relevant directives. While the processing steps for most applications or petitions are completed quickly, a small percentage of cases involve unresolved issues that may result in adjudication delays. For example, if our review reveals an issue that may impact an individual’s eligibility for the requested immigration benefit, further inquiry is needed. The inquiry may include an additional interview and/or contact with another agency for updates or more comprehensive information. We are unable to determine at this time when the review process for the application will be completed. USCIS is unable to render a decision on your client’s case until certain issues are resolved. We are striving to resolve these issues as soon as possible. We understand that your client’s may be frustrated by the progress of their case. However, USCIS must balance individual inconvenience against broader issues of public safety and national security.

Thank you,

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Azaz A December 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Broken I had a somehow similar response from the USCIS a decade ago. And eventually my application for adjustment of status was put on hold becasue of TRIG and it is still on hold. In your situation it might be routine procedure USCIS follows before granting any immigration benefit. Just be patient and hope for the best and I would strongly advise you to seek the help of an attorney if you donot have one at the moment…

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Broken December 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Thank you very much Azaz. As you can see, that response was sent to my lawyer. I can never go through such a procedure all alone. I only dislike one thing though, the IO assured me that he would mail out my decision in 30 or 90 days but almost a year has gone past. You can imagine how frustrating it is

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:21 am

They often make these types of promises, and then do not send the decision in the time frame they indicated. It would be far better if they did not give a time frame, as it is even more frustrating to expect a decision and then it never arrives. Take care, Jason

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Broken December 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

Thank you Jason you are something else. But please reply to my concern. Here is below the email that USCIS sent to my lawyer regarding my case. Do you think it is just a standard response or it is related to my case?U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) records confirm that your client’s cases stated below are still pending at this time. USCIS is committed to adjudicating immigration benefits in a timely and efficient manner while also ensuring public safety, national security and compliance with all relevant directives. While the processing steps for most applications or petitions are completed quickly, a small percentage of cases involve unresolved issues that may result in adjudication delays. For example, if our review reveals an issue that may impact an individual’s eligibility for the requested immigration benefit, further inquiry is needed. The inquiry may include an additional interview and/or contact with another agency for updates or more comprehensive information. We are unable to determine at this time when the review process for the application will be completed. USCIS is unable to render a decision on your client’s case until certain issues are resolved. We are striving to resolve these issues as soon as possible. We understand that your client’s may be frustrated by the progress of their case. However, USCIS must balance individual inconvenience against broader issues of public safety and national security.

janclude December 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Azaz,
How have you decided your case is a TRIG? personal guessing? Or you knew this info through a certain way?

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Broken December 18, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I am not sure that my case is a TRIG but when I received this email this morning, it made me think twice

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Azaz A December 18, 2017 at 11:22 pm

My application for adjustment is on hold for almost 10 years and I had been asking for status updates every 6 months and every time I got a reply from USCIS telling that my application was on hold for TRIG. I have been fingerprinted so many times at the local USCIS office that now the 4-5 individuals working there recognize my face the moment i step into that office.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:09 am

I think it is a standard response and does not really tell you anything – I have seen similar responses from the asylum offices before. Take care, Jason

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Sumaya December 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

But as I see, your case is different than all others, they may send you what they promise.

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Devdas December 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Hi Jason hope you are having a good time

I have few questions- I appreciate your answer all the times!

Its been over two years since i applied for asylum in Virginia! So during this time i changed my address one time within Virginia and same city.

I applied for expedition my case and USCIS have sent a rejection mail and that mail came to my old address thank God that was my friend address although i have changed my address properly i receive my other EAD cards in my current address but why my expedition mail come to my old address!

So these days im going to move in another apartment in same city im afraid that this frequent change of address don’t affect my interview case Please help me!

How to make sure that USCIS has my update address although I received last time my change of address confirmation but still they have sent to my old address?

Can i go in person in Arlington office and update it in person?

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:06 am

You can file the AR-11 on-line (www.usics.gov), but make sure you are changing the address for the I-589 (not the I-765 work permit). If you are more comfortable, you can go in-person and file the AR-11 at the asylum office itself. Bring an extra copy for yourself and they will stamp it – so you will have proof that you changed your address. You can find their contact info and office hours if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Devdas December 19, 2017 at 11:44 am

Thank Jason. Appreciate it

Other part of my question not responded i said im going to move in another apartment soon does this frequent change of address affect my case!!! Its within Virginia and same city

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Sara December 19, 2017 at 11:48 am

I’m not sure why they would care how many times an applicant moves, as long as the applicant informs them within the given 10 days for doing so. Just my $0.02.

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Sara December 19, 2017 at 11:51 am

Reading your initial post, you seem to be worried this will delay your interview date. If you’re still under the jurisdiction of the same asylum office, I can’t imagine how the frequency of moving will have any impact on the interview date.

Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 6:37 pm

You have to change your address with the asylum office, but otherwise, there is no effect on your case. Take care, Jason

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Mahrk mari December 18, 2017 at 1:18 am

Hi Jason
Thank you for a very interesting article and many thanks for the kind of lawyer you are who helps people so much.
We filed our application this year through a paralegal.
He says he has a lawyer above him.
My question is that when we have our first interview our plan is to tAke the paralegal with us for the interview. He says he will represent us in courts. However we have heard a paralegal cannot represent us.
This paralegal is helping many people and he is very reasonable at his cost.
Can you advice what do you think of this. Alsois it possible for us not to follow this paralegal if need be and hire a lawyer even though it is this paralegal who helped us filed our documents at the california office?
Will it create a problem changing representatives?

Many thanks for your help.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:04 am

Most times when I hear about a “paralegal” with a lawyer above him, it is a problem, as these are often people who are practicing law without a license, which is actually a crime. In addition, if there is a lawyer involved in the case and you have not met the lawyer, that is a very big problem. I recommend you be very careful working with this person and make sure you get copies of everything he files (and double check that it is correct). In most cases like this, you are better off doing it yourself than using one of these supposed helpers. A paralegal cannot represent you in court or any where else (so he is lying to you about that). Probably, he will serve only as an interpreter at the interview. You are not represented by the paralegal, as that is not allowed, so there is no problem to change representation. I am sorry to be harsh about this, but I have seen many many case where such people have destroyed asylum cases, and so I think you have to be very careful. Take care, Jason

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summer_wit December 16, 2017 at 10:57 pm

Hello Jason
Is there any potability to be detained at master hearing if case is denied? What could be reason for something like that?

Thank you man

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:46 am

I have not heard about people being detained at any Immigration Court hearing. Normally (but not always), cases are not denied at the MCH, but rather at the Individual Hearing. If a person were to be detained, I expect that would only happen if he was charged or convicted of a crime, or if he is a national security risk. Take care, Jason

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Celia December 16, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Odd question:
I know most of the people here are not familiar with EU country legislations and visa waiver program but is it possible that the judge will deny based on the fact that we were theoretically able to reside somewhere else in the EU instead of the US? I personally didn’t plan to reside here, came on a vacation, I didn’t abuse my visa waiver status but I overstayed…
I met my spouse here and the situation on that side is the same. We applied after changed circumstances occurred which is that we got married and we applied right after.
We just happened to be here at that time when realized we cannot go back because it isn’t safe.
And also inside the EU, there is free movement so people from our country can freely travel around and everything is relatively close..so harm can follow us too.
I hust hope we will get assigned to a good judge and the DHS attorney won’t torture us.

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Celia December 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Oh and overstaying a visa waiver is easy because it’s a 90 day stay…

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

The issue is whether you were “firmly resettled” in a third country; not whether you could go there if wanted to. If you lived in, for example, Denmark for years, you might have to explain that, but if you never lived in another country, this should not be an issue. There is a separate issue about internal relocation (if you can relocate within your country and be safe, you cannot get asylum), but that is only within your own country; not within the EU generally. I do think anyone from a visa waiver country is going to have an up-hill battle convincing the Judge and DHS to agree to asylum, but it is certainly possible (and if you follow the link to the TRAC website above, you will see all the countries where people got asylum from – including countries in the EU). Take care, Jason

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Celia December 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

Thank you for the answer as always.

We received a letter from the AO that says we completed the interview and the decision will be mailed out. I guess it’s a pre made letter because we had no interview.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 6:54 am

You should contact the asylum office and tell them about the error. Hopefully, they can correct that. 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 December 16, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Hi !
I have one question: a person who won a lottery and it’s a green card holder, can he send a petition for a fiancée visa?!, or how is the procedure? If you can help me Jason I really appreciate.
Take care

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:39 am

A fiancé visa is only for fiancée of US citizens. Winning the DV lottery is unrelated to that. Take care, Jason

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Nasir December 16, 2017 at 1:49 am

Dear Jason hope you are doing well , it’s almost six mount my father waiting for decistion and my mother health is vary bad it’s possible that my father apply for Humanitarian parole what’s your advise ?

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:29 am

I suppose he can try, though it is difficult to get. I recommend you talk to a lawyer about that for help. To apply for humanitarian parole, you use form I-131, available at http://www.uscis.gov and you have read the instructions carefully about what to do. Take care, Jason

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liz December 15, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Hi Jason,

Thank you so much for all your help in this difficult times.

Los Angeles office moved 8 months ahead in one month. Is this the correct statistics? Do you know what is the reason for this unexpected change?

Thank you
God bless

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:22 am

I imagine it is correct. Why? I do not know. It may be due to the fact that they had previously finished some cases filed at that time period (there was a different system at the time, and some cases were processed quickly, while other ended up in the backlog – which is what you see on the chart), and so they could skip ahead several months. Take care, Jason

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liz December 18, 2017 at 12:52 am

Thank you so much Mr. Jason. I really appreciate your help and concered for all of us. God bless you.

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Yene December 15, 2017 at 8:37 am

How you doing guys
To day I have received my dental decision from my AO in Arlington and they have sent notice to appear before an immigration judge of the united States department
The reason why the AO denied me is you have not mentioned that you were separated with your wife and come back together in your case , but sine my asylum is based on political why she is concerns about my family
What should I do next , what does it means notice of appear , how long it take to appear on judge , they haven’t mentioned when I will be there , they simple say “to be determined to show why you should not be removed from the united States based on your charge you should be 1901 South bell st , suite 200 , Arlington VA ” so how do I know when I will be there if the date and time is not mentioned
Thanks for unlimited support

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Nasir December 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

Yene hope you are doing well so to hear about your dental decision can you share your timeline ? Also my father interview was in Arlington AO .

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm

The court will send you a notice about the next hearing. Also, you can check the phone system. Call 800-898-7180 and enter your alien number. If your name is in the system, you can push 1 and it will tell you your next court date. It will probably take a few weeks to get into the system (or longer) and your first court date may not be for several months. As for the denial, they can deny for an inconsistency, even if that does not directly relate to the case, so maybe that is the reason. If you are in court, you should hire a lawyer (for the reasons discussed in the above article) and the lawyer can discuss that with you. Take care, Jason

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Yene December 15, 2017 at 8:18 am

How you doing guys
To day I have received my dental decision from my AO in Arlington and they have sent notice to appear before an immigration judge of the united States department
The reason why the AO denied me is you have not mentioned that you were separated with your and come back together wi

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Lami December 15, 2017 at 4:34 am

Hello. If an asylum applicant abandoned their case in the US and crosses to Canada and obtains refugee status there and a Canadian refugee travel document , can they apply for a visiting VISA to the US? Or are they black listed form the US?

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

If you apply for asylum and your case is abandoned, you will most likely end up with a deportation order, which will bar you from returning to the US for at least 5 years (unless you file a waiver and get special permission to return early). Possibly, you could avoid this by withdrawing your asylum case, but that is not easy. Contact the local asylum office to ask about that. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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bass December 15, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Hope you are doing fine Jason . If you don’t mind Jason to give me more detailes about why its not easy to withdraw the case and what difficulties the one may face is it a long process or what do you mean . So I can’t leave after filing for the withdraw and let the process finish after. Thank you for always being their for us answering our inquiries god bless you

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Jason Dzubow December 17, 2017 at 7:17 am

You can withdraw an asylum case, but if you have no other lawful status, the asylum office will forward your case to the DHS and Immigration Court, and you will eventually have a court case. If you do not show up, you will be ordered deported. It is not so easy to avoid this, and you would probably need a lawyer to help (normally, only a lawyer could appear in court on your behalf to convince the Judge not to issue a deport order). Perhaps you can communicate with the asylum office to avoid this, but in one case, even where we sent evidence that the person was now outside the US, they still (many months later) forwarded the case to court. Take care, Jason

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HA December 15, 2017 at 1:23 am

Hi
I submitted I485 for me and my family on April 13th, we got the receipt dated April 19th that they got the case, as per the previous processing time table, on Sept 30, they were working on cases received on April 2nd in Nebraska office, No update from UCSIC so far for this month, do I have to stress ?
Two of my friends got the approval after 4 months, in the same office, what do you think more time it may take?

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:27 am

If this is an I-485 based on an asylum approval, we are seeing those take 10 to 12 months. Everything has slowed down a lot in the last 6 months or so, and so I think you do not need to stress about it. Hopefully, you will get something within a few months. Take care, Jason

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Sumaya December 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

I liked you sentence, “do I hove to stress?”
When I am stressed, I try to be far away, but it comes and even if someone tells me not to, but…..
Hope u get well

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HA December 18, 2017 at 1:59 am

Thanks Sumaya
Wish you the best, and hopefully you hear some good news soon

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Al December 14, 2017 at 11:29 pm

Hi Jason,

I was refereed to the judge about a year ago, my hearing is in January.
He put down “applicants testimony was not detailed, consistent and plausible, therefore it is not found to be credible.”
I have his detailed decision and it’s absolute nonsense based on assumption and personal paranoia. There I things that i didn’t say during the interview or in my original testimony.

Does the statement above, however, influence judges decision?

Thank you for all the hard work.

AL

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:19 am

If you have the officer’s notes, you should be prepared to re-but what the officer said, even if it is not accurate. You might make a new affidavit explaining the issues, and also explain where you were misinterpreted. The Judge normally would not have the officer’s notes, but the DHS attorney could use them to cross examine you (“You said X at the asylum interview, so why are you saying Y today?”), so you should be prepared for that. Good luck, Jason

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Al December 16, 2017 at 3:59 am

Thank you Jason so much. I am working on it with a lawyer.

Al

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Broken December 14, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Hi Jason,
Again thank you ever so much for your informative blog. Whenever I return home, after I say my prayer I read what you guys post. I have another question, though. After my family entered the USA on advanced parole, I applied for their EAD based on AD. They applications were granted after 3 months. I added them to my case which is still pending for a final decision as I was already interviewed and after 21 days only their card documents are being produced already. Is this something common or it is just related to my case? Would it be a good or bad indication in your guess?

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:16 am

I am not sure I fully understand, but in general, I think the EAD process is not really connected to the asylum process, and so a fast or slow EAD is probably unrelated to any particular outcome in the asylum case. Take care, Jason

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Broken December 15, 2017 at 7:56 am

That is what I thought. May be they were selected randomly

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L.F December 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm

I’m sad now and just trying to convince my family that still things gonna be okay..
From what I heard: in NY they are like 12 judges. 6 very good and 6 not so good… and to introduce with judge takes 1-3 months.., than for court between 6 months to 4+ years if you have that luck 😢. !
Most of the cases are done in 1.6 – 2 years?!!
Jason I really really appreciate your help and support

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Anonymous December 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm

LF it’s okay, don’t be sad. God will see you through. Either you fall on the bad judge or good judge, God in HIS infinite mercy will give you approval letter in the name of JESUS. Just be strong. You will sing a victorious songs at the end.

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Sara December 14, 2017 at 10:41 pm

You’re well within your right to feel upset about this, but not so much that you lose sight of what’s important now which is channeling all your strength into putting together a strong case for court. If you’re allowed to submit more evidence, work on that. If there are areas of weakness that were exposed during the interview, work on covering those with your lawyer.
Also, check out Jason’s blog post from 04/20/17: http://www.asylumist.com/2017/04/20/expediting-a-case-in-immigration-court/
Maybe you can try to expedite your case based on family separation.
All the best.

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zim December 14, 2017 at 10:55 pm

LF
we r in the same boat. don’t dishearted

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:14 am

Google “TRAC immigration” and you will find a website listing all the judges and their grant rates, plus the overall grant rate for each court. I think there are more like 40 judges in NY, almost all are good, but a couple have very low grant rates. Take care, Jason

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davids December 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Hi Jason
thanks for the usual help.
How soon after I granted asylum can I start processing vaccination for the green card. Does the vaccination take time or can be completed in a short period of time. Can I use my medical insurance to get those vaccination as it is covered by the insurance.
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm

If you are talking about the medical exam, you should do that when you apply for the green card (one year after being granted asylum). You cannot apply before then, so there is no point in doing the medical exam at that time (and plus, if you do it too early, it will expire and you will have to re-do it). Take care, Jason

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davids December 14, 2017 at 7:29 pm

yes sir, I am talking about the medical for the green card. can I send the application couple of weeks before one year from the date granted.
what documents am I sending other than the medical report.
thanks

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Jason Dzubow December 15, 2017 at 7:12 am

You have to check the I-485 instructions for the needed documents, as it depends on the case (or talk to a lawyer for help). We used to send such applications a month before the 1-year anniversary, but then one got rejected. Since that time, we wait the full year. Take care, Jason

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Ana December 14, 2017 at 4:57 pm

On 2015 my husband and I married to file together and he overstayed because he had a relative sick at the states so he entered with his tourist Visa on Nov. 2014  (He was poorly advise on extensions) and overstayed 6 months, (3 months at the time I arrived in June 2015 and then 3 more months while we file and received receipt from USCIS) that in your opinion will damage my case? 

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm

I don’t really understand the timeline, but as long as the principal applicant filed for asylum within one year of entering the US, you should be fine. Take care, Jason

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Ana Rodriguez December 14, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Thank you Jason!

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L.F December 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Hi ..
I got my decision today, unfortunately they send me to the court 😢😢😢
Now my question is : how long does it take to introduce with judge, and how long does it take for court date ?? I really really appreciate the help , I’m talking for NYOA !?
Take care

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Sara December 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Hey buddy. I was thinking of you today, and didn’t want to ask about your decision in case you didn’t want to share it for any reason.
I’m very sorry about that outcome, but it’s not over yet. I know there’s a hotline for immigration court where you can enter your receipt number (ZNY), and find out but that it may take some time before that information is available.
Jason has also mentioned that the timeline differs from one judge to another, so there won’t be a standard for NY (that’s to answer your last question).
Stay strong!

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L.F December 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm

It’s just funny on the reasons: your testimony doesn’t match with your statement!!!!
She never gave me a hard time , and when I wanted to say something she stopped me …
It’s just life continue, I’m gonna try to be strong and do whatever needs to bring my wife here ..

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

We have seen such a referral. It was – to say the least – infuriating and I made a complaint (it was my only complaint to the asylum office). On the bright side, when we got to court, the government lawyer and Judge had reviewed the case and the client was granted asylum in about 2 minutes, with no testimony at all. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm

The phone number is 800-898-7180 and you have to enter your Alien number. Probably your case will not be in the system for at least a few weeks, and probably a couple months. Take care, Jason

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Sara December 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Alien* number, pardon me.

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I am very sorry to hear this. But do remember that it is normally easier to win in court than at the asylum office, so there is still certainly hope for success. As for the timing, I do not know, as it is very unpredictable and it depends on the court and the judge (and if you are in NYC, there are many judges – mostly, they are quite good). Typically, most cases are resolved within a year, but some cases drag on much longer, usually due to bad luck and nothing to do with the case itself. Take care, Jason

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Celia December 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

I am sorry you got the referral to court. Me too. Don’t lose hope, believe in yourself and use your waiting time to do something productive. You can strengthen your case by research and getting ready.
Good luck!

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Amanda December 14, 2017 at 1:48 am

Hi Jason!
I had my interview today in Boston. The officer did not read my statement. We filed supplement documents 3 years before my interview , unfortunately they haven’t received that. Since the case was complex the officer seems to be confused and we ended up with my lawyer t asking the presence of their Director to explain him what was going on since the officer was not familiar with my country situatiom. After 3h of interview, we asked to their director to reassign the case to an knowleagble officer and reschedule the interview. Do you think that will jeopardize me? Rescheduling an interview to prepared an officer who can understand what is going on my country.

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 7:27 am

This sounds like a mess, and it sounds like it is the fault of the asylum office. Hopefully, they will act professionally and take responsibility for their errors and then re-interview you in a timely and fair way. They do normally behave that way, so hopefully they will for you too. Take care, Jason

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Reema December 14, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Hi Amanda,

DO you mind sharing your timeline?

Thanks!

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Fadhl December 14, 2017 at 1:21 am

Brother Jason,
Shall I need a lawyer to file I-730? How much you charge to file this form? Regards

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 7:25 am

It’s up to you. I never remember our fees for these things, and so I am not sure. If you need us to do it, you can contact me by email and I can find the price: jdzubow@dzubowlaw.com. Take care, Jason

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Asylum seeker December 13, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Timeline bulletin updated

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AlexH December 13, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Hi, Jason, thank you so much for your helpful insights and I hope you and your family will enjoy this season. I have a question about EAD filing office, I am in Washington state,I usually renew to Nebraska, but last EAD I sent to Nebraska they updated online saying it was forwarded to Potomac office, the forwarding process takes time and every day counts now for EAD renewal. In order for me to save time when I file EAD renew next year, should I still file to Nebraska or file to Potomac? Please kindly help! God bless you.

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 7:17 am

USCIS moves cases to different offices, depending on the work load. You have to file in the office assigned to your category and location, so you have no choice about this. Also, there are currently long delays related to EADs. Hopefully, the situation will improve by the time you file to renew, but the only thing you can really do is file as early as possible – which is 180 days before the current EAD expires (double check the instructions on this, as the rule has changed and may change again). Take care, Jason

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AlexH December 14, 2017 at 8:40 am

Thank you Jason! I usually files 120 days ahead, I will check on the information.

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 6:34 pm

That is always what I advised, but I think you can now file 180 days ahead – so check the instructions and apply as early as possible. Take care, Jason

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JP December 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Dear Jason,
I have been to your asylumist website which I have find so useful for my situation. Please allow me to ask you question that would help me get direction to my case.
My wife and I recently arrived from my country into the US on a B2 visa (April 2017). It was a journey to escape violence meted against my wife as a result of general elections polarisation in the country. She had undergone one horrendous ordeal that has left her scared and traumatised. We didn’t know much about asylum so we went ahead and applied for change of status from B2 to F1 from the fear of going back to our country at the end of our I-94 stay period. USCIS received and issued a receipt for our application. Meaning we both have pending I-539 cases.
Since I believe she has a strong case for asylum do you think she can now file a I-589? What are the options in our case?
Thanks,
JP

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm

You can file anytime for asylum. However, you may need to explain why you filed for a change of status to F visa (the explanation you gave above is a good one). Also, you must file within one year of arriving in the US; otherwise, you are not eligible for asylum. Take care, Jason

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Florence December 13, 2017 at 7:49 am

Hi everyone. I would just like to share my work permit experince.
Applied Sept 25
Card was mailed on October 30
Card was delivered November 2 however i did not receive it that day.

When i checked my status online it states that if i did not received it by nov 29 i should contact uscis.

So after anxiously checking the mailbox everyday, sometimes 2 times, the 29th finally came so I called up uscis. They indicated that it was indeed mailed from oct 30 and i was given a tracking number.

Thats when i saw that it was delivered on nov 2; but obviously not in my mailed box. I went to the post office and they said they basically dont know where i was. I felt loss, dejected, sad… you know all those words that described defeat. The guy at the post office said he will have to give me a letter stating this but he was going to search for me first and i should give him some days..

I waited and nothing came up…. i cud not wait anymore so i contacted uscis again and they told me that since its not their error i will have to apply all over again….🙁😟

I humbly accepted my current situation and prepared my entire package again… 3 family members.. and i was ready to go.

This Monday nov 11 i proudly went to the post office with my package to be mailed but first i had to get that letter from them stating what happen so i could get the fee waived. The guy there that day saw on his system where it was return to sender a coulple days before. To my disappointment the person to give me the letter was not at work. I beseeched the guy to just go on the computer and print something so i can send off my package… h said that he could not…. i left there with my heart heavy, i held back the tears.😢😢😢

So yesterday now… tuesday… i saw a guy that know me and also the guy at the post office.. he said the post office guy said he found my letters and i should come collect it..😆😆😆😆

I dont know how he found it… or how he intercepted it before it was returned but i was able to collect it.

Besides all of that i have a orientation next monday that i can proudly attend now that i got the ead…

My advise to persons who are worried right now is. … faith and worry dont work. Also when you see online that your work permit was mailed call uscis and get a tracking number because mistakes do happen. Fix up ur resumes and send out applications while you wait.

Guys continue being strong because we are all in this together.

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Thank you for this. It is exhausting reading it, but it is nice to hear a happy ending. Take care, Jason

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Florence December 14, 2017 at 7:40 am

Lol… its was even more exhausting wait…

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L.F December 13, 2017 at 1:15 am

Hi !
Just wanted to share my timeline for EAD renewal for the second time:,
Applied: May 24 2017
Card produced: December 9 2017, still waiting on my mailbox.
So it’s been around 7 months…
Idk if this is a good sign or a bad while I’m waiting for my decision Thursday… if is there any connection or not, idk…
Celia good luck Tomorrow, let us know what is happening,
Sara you are like an angel 👼☺️, for this you got a decision in your favor bella…
I let toy know what is going to happen
Take care

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 7:33 am

We recently received an update from AILA (immigration lawyer’s group) that said many people across the US are waiting 7+ months for EAD renewals, so I think it is unrelated to your asylum case. Take care, Jason

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Sara December 13, 2017 at 9:54 am

Great news about the card!
I would have guessed that it could be related to the case, but Jason says it isn’t because that seems to be the timeline these days.
Either way, it’s something to help you stay positive until tomorrow!

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Sara Hope December 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Hi LF , Waiting to hear from you & hoping the decision was in your favor , have been praying for all asylees in this forum .
Sara

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Yamah Lorpue Tequah December 20, 2017 at 12:05 am

Hi everyone,can anyone tell me how you check your status online? Had my interview Nov 16,haven’t gotten any response yet.

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Jason Dzubow December 20, 2017 at 7:22 am

You cannot check an asylum case on-line. You can contact the asylum office directly, but I would give them at least another month – decisions often do not come that quickly. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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janclude December 12, 2017 at 8:57 pm

I have had a question that pretty often crosses my mind. Can a pending asylum case stays pending forever? Can the asylum office keep the case in their forgotten archive forever, and totally forget about it. Or they should deliver an answer someday by either accepting the case or referring it to court? Do you know anyone with a case that is kept pending for 10+ years for example with no answer? my case has been filed since 5 years, and I lost hope already since 1 year when I did my 2nd interview with no decision has been made.

Should I renovate the hope inside of myself? Should I start seeking other countries like Canada, and explore my options their? waiting is killing. Refusal would be much easier if it came after a short time of filing the case. At least you would have a determined path to follow and seek other places’ protection.

But keeping the case outstanding, feel yourself between heaven and hell, and then denying after a significant waiting.. that is totally not fair. All what I wish as outcome of all this chaos with accepting/Not asylees, if they come up with a limited timeline to resolve a case, afterwards they should make a decision. let us say 5 years is M O R E than enough to investigate a person’s background or study all the details of his/her case 100 times for each word, why not to make their decision by then? I am dying every single day, and the asylum officers are unlikely to be persuaded by the hardship of a pending asylum applicant in the US land. Why are they are unlikely to be persuaded ?? They are humans correct? like me and you! eat, breathe, feel,.. no?

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 7:27 am

Theoretically, a case could be pending forever, but there is only really one category of case that should be held that long these days, and that is where the person has a “terrorism related inadmissibility grounds” issue (called TRIG). These are overly-broad rules related to terrorism (I wrote about them on June 24, 2016). The reason is that the government is supposed to be writing new rules about this, but it is taking them years to get the rules written. At this point, I recommend you contact the USCIS Ombudsman – a link is at right. If they do not help, the next step is a mandamus lawsuit – you would need to talk to a lawyer about that. Such a lawsuit is likely to resolve the case, but you have to do the Ombudsman inquiry first, so try that and see what happens (it is free). Good luck, Jason

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janclude December 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Thank you Jason,
I read your mentioned article about TRIG more than 20 times. I know every small single detail of it. I can say I am highlighted as TRIG unfortunately because of my unawareness of the interviews culture & education, which is the fault of my lawyer as far as I can say. He didn’t educate me. I was not asking him to make me lie, but to educate me when/when not an asylum case can be stuck just like you did in your article. That could result in a big difference in the way I answered. I improvised, I answered questions that I “thought” that I know the answer of them. Meanwhile, I had to answer only what I “know”, not what I “think” that I know. I thought they are trying to have as much evidences as they can to accept my case, so I was trying my best to provide answers thinking this will show them how much I am cooperative. But unfortunately, I believe they were focusing on a different path (the TRIG one)

All my troubles would have been resolved if I read your 2nd article “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know” you have written in June 2017. Had I followed the article advice, my case wouldn’t have result in this significant delay I am sure

Thank you again. your wishes and prayers to us, we are really good people, have all the good intention to the society we are in..

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Jason Dzubow December 14, 2017 at 7:07 am

It sounds like the lawyer did not prepare you very well for the interview, which is unfortunate. You may want to go down the Ombudsman-mandamus path anyway. Even if you lose your case at the asylum office, you might be better off getting sent to court, where I have not seen delays like the one you are experiencing. Anyway, it is something to think about and/or discuss with a lawyer. Good luck, Jason

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janclude December 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm

He prepared me from his point of view. His preparation was focusing on the time line. That I should be consistent with the dates of incidents I have written on my statement. I was OK with the dates. But for TRIG thing, I believe he was unaware of this. Never said anything about it. Until now he doesn’t admit that I had a lot of weakness points in my statement. I have written things in my statement in a way that can easily trigger TRIG flag, but he didn’t even do any single change or recommendation on it. Again, I won’t lie at all, but I will convey the incidents I have been through in a completely different way that would make me avoid all of this hassle. He said, your statement it is very good, I will leave it as is..

What I need to convey to this great blog readers, that we (people from the area I came from “Middle East”) do not have the knowledge of the American system. We should all know that (whatever we say, may be used against us). To be a good person is not enough in the US, but, you need to be aware of the details of the law to protect yourself. you will need to have a good lawyer just like Jason who can introduce you to the system flaws and what can/cannot affect you. Otherwise, guys you will be overwhelmed within the same headache cyclone that I have been through all these hard years..

Thank you again Jason,
Do you take mandamus cases with SF office?

Sara December 12, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Hey Celia, thinking of you today. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way and your husband’s for a very successful interview tomorrow.
All the best on Thursday, L.F. I’m sending more of that postivity your way for an asylum-office-call-free day tomorrow, and an approval on Thursday.
Good luck, guys! 🙂

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El December 12, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Hey Sara, I wonder if there’s any chance to send you email??

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Celia December 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Not so nice officer, not so good outcome

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L.F December 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Hey celia !! How was the interview?!

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Celia December 13, 2017 at 3:21 pm

If you go back to the previous post of Jason’s (people with TPS) there is a whole thread. Not good, not bad either. There was no interview so I don’t know what to think

Matt December 12, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Hi Jason,
I came to USA with F1 visa, I never went to the school, I started preparing asylum application. For about 2 months I was out of status(from the day the school made me out of status to the day I filled asylum).
Now three years passed and still my case is pending waiting for interview. But last month I got married. My wife is a US citizen. we are filling i-130 and i-485 AOS.
Do you think those two months where I was out of status will affect me? the time I took to prepare asylum application, is that considered as violating the term of my then non-immigrant visa? Do you think I need attorney for this?

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 7:20 am

I think the two months will not affect you. The only issue I see from your post is that USCIS might accuse you of fraud, since you entered on an F-1 but never went to school. If you can afford a lawyer, it might not be a bad idea to talk to one about this issue. I think it is more likely that they will not accuse you of fraud, so another option is to wait and see what happens, and if they do think there is a fraud, then hire a lawyer. I wrote a blog post kind-of related to this point on September 19, 2017 – maybe that would be helpful). Take care, Jason

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Rakel December 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Hello Jason,
I have an urgent question; I submitted my ead renewal application in June. My other family members received their new cards but mine was transferred to another jurisdiction. Now my employer wants to let me go if I can’t produce the new one. What do I do? When will this new one come? I work in a financial institution and I don’t want to lose my job.

thank you for your help

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Jason Dzubow December 13, 2017 at 7:17 am

There are very long delays with many EAD renewals. Your old EAD was automatically extended by 6 months, so maybe that helps (I did a post about this with links to the government website on January 25, 2017). You can try calling USCIS or go there in person. You can find the phone number or make an appointment at http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Jyde December 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

Hello Jason,
Want to ask a quick question, after we have fingerprint base on asylum application, we came into USA on a B2 visa, my question is what can we say our status is right now.

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

If the B-2 period of stay has expired, and you have no other status, you can say that your current status is “asylum pending,” though this is not really a status for most purposes – but you are allowed to remain in the US until the case is resolved. Take care, Jason

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Whatnow! December 12, 2017 at 10:11 am

Hello Jason,

Is it a rule that work permits must be applied for after 150 days of filing the I-589 or can I apply a month after filing ?

Thanks

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Nyc December 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

You can but they will reject your application.

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 6:43 pm

The requires a 180 day waiting period after you file asylum before you can file for a work permit. USCIS allows you to submit the application early – after the 150th day. That is the earliest you can submit it. If you file it earlier, it will most likely be rejected. Take care, Jason

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Doobsie December 12, 2017 at 5:45 am

Hi Jason, & All fellow applicants,
A quick question regarding the interview process:
Is an applicant allowed to bring-in guidance notes to an interview, and do they allow applicant to jot down notes during interview, for later reference?

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 7:25 am

It depends on the officer, but in most cases, I think the answer is no. Especially, they do not want you checking notes when you answer their questions, as remembering the answer is part of the way they decide whether you are telling the truth (it doesn’t really work in my opinion – I wrote about that on January 9, 12, and 19, 2012). Take care, Jason

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Azaz A December 11, 2017 at 9:20 pm

An interesting article. I think being represented by even a less qualified attorney is much better than having no legal representation in an immigration court. I have seen the consequences of having no legal representation when filing my first asylum application. My application was simply denied. Later when I filed my second asylum application with the help of an immigration attorney, the court granted the application. The facts of both the applications were the same but it was the way the attorney presented the facts to the court that convinced the judge. I do remember that when delivering his judgement, the judge praised the attorney for presented a detailed and easy to understand case before the court. I would strongly urge anyone who is filling an asylum application to use the help of an attorney. Spending some money to retain an immigration attorney is worth every penny spent…

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 7:19 am

Generally, I agree, but there are lawyers (and I have seen them – and in some cases made bar complaints against them) who do less-than nothing. They miss deadlines, ignore judges’ orders, encourage their clients to lie, etc. For this reason, it is very important to interview the attorney and try your best to be sure that they are honest and competent. Thank you for the comment, Jason

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Jamie December 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

Jason, I completely agree with you! I have seen and experienced, first-hand, what you are referring to. Case in point, my lawyer submitted my application one day before the one-year deadline! The same lawyer lost my first EAD application and lied to me about its whereabouts. I had thought that my application for EAD was submitted all along but it wasn’t. I kept calling USCIS to find out if they had received my EAD application and they kept telling me that they weren’t seeing my application. 8 months later, the lawyer told me that the application wasn’t submitted in the first place!!!

Fine then. I thought it was an oversight. You would not believe that the lawyer didn’t submit my application on time for my EAD renewal (my second EAD)! If it wasn’t for the 6-months extension, I would have been out of a job because of someone else’s negligence.

I could write on epistle about the preparation with the lawyer. Let’s just say I did my own case: I gathered all the evidence, prepped myself, wrote my own declaration, got all the affidavits myself, and came up with all the ideas. It was simply a mess. Thank God I am able to read and write and have an OK level of intelligence. And, I must thank Jason for his blog and advice. I learned from this blog so much. I even got emotional support from this blog. I must say I am grateful and I am glad I found this blog.

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Dana December 12, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Hey Jamie, I.MAY have that lawyer you are talking about. All what you say just describe how I feel with the lawyer I have now. I just file month ago on my own.

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Thank you – it is disappointing to hear about the lawyer. I am not sure it warrants a bar complaint or a lawsuit, but it might. At least letting the lawyer know about your experience might cause him to think about being more careful. Take care, Jason

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MORI December 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Hello Sara

I did my asylum interview at Newark NJ on April 14 but until now I don’t hear back anything do you have any idea how long it’s take

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Sara December 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Hi Mori,
Jason usually advises people in your situation to inquire about their cases directly with the asylum office.
Did you try emailing or calling them? I would start with that and document all attempts at contacting them, so that you have evidence of that if you end up needing to get the Ombudsman involved.
As always, Jason can give you the best advice here.

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MORI December 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Hi Jami

I did my asylum interview on April 14 but until now I don’t hear back anything do you have any idea how long it’s take

Regards

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 7:14 am

There is no way to predict, though generally the Newark office is pretty good. You can contact the asylum office and inquire. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. If that does not help, you can try the USCIS Ombudsman – there is a link to that office at right also. Take care, Jason

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Broken December 11, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Thank you again for your informative blog. I have a question of curiosity. Do asylum applicants submit originals or they just submit copies? I am asking this in regard to my case. I saw my lawyer with newspapers talking about me and I guess that he only submitted copies. Do you think that USCIS trusts more lawyers than applicants themselves?

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Jason Dzubow December 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm

We only submit copies, and we bring the originals with us to the interview. I think this is the best practice. Take care, Jason

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Broken December 11, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Thank you one more time for your response. However, some of the documents I submitted with my application were just copies but I trust my lawyer to the extends that I do not follow what he does since I has already done great things in my life. The only bad side of him is that he never explains things like you Jason. You are out of the world man

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Jason Dzubow December 12, 2017 at 7:20 am

Whether he submitted copies or originals does not matter much, as long as you bring all the originals with you to the interview so the officer can look at them if they want to. Take care, Jason

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Jamie December 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Hi Santon,

Most asylum offices give asylum applicants one week before their actual interview dates to submit the rest of their documents. Some allow you to submit your documents on the day of the interview. You should call your asylum office to find out if they will allow applicants to submit the other documents (declaration, evidence, affidavits, etc.) a week before their interview/on the same the day of the interview. If I were you, I would submit the documents as soon as I get the interview notice (usually two weeks before your interview) or before I get the notice. This will give you time to focus on your interview preparation. My lawyer made the mistake of submitting the final documents a week before the interview, and I spent the final week of the interview notice trying to gather evidence and affidavits. This did not go well for me as I had a very difficult time trying to furnish the evidence/gather evidence and affidavits. Moreover, most of the time was spent on putting the evidence together and gathering the evidence. If you have them already, I don’t think there is anything to lose if you submit them early.

Jason, feel free to add to what I stated above!

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Sara December 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Hey Jamie,
I guess he could try to send material in prior to the interview date. A best practices guide for each asylum office from 2015 states this for NY: “The New York Asylum Office does not pre-assign cases. Supporting materials can be submitted prior to the interview or with the front desk on the morning of the interview when the applicant checks in. You should not wait to give this documentation to the officer at the commencement of the interview.”
This could very well be outdated information. I do know, however, that I did bring my supplemental support material with me on the day of my interview (handed it in when we checked in).
Either way, I agree that calling the asylum office to ask would be the safest way to handle this.

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Jamie December 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Hi Sara,

Hope you are well!

Yes, you are right, I believe the NY AO allows you to submit the supplemental documents on the day of the interview.

I did my interview at the Newark, NJ office; this office requires that you submit the document at least one week before the interview date. It seems to be that the officers at the Newark office actually familiarize themselves with the cases before the actual interview- sometimes well in advance of the interview date- as my officer was very knowledgeable about the facts of my case and the supplemental materials.

It seems like the officers read through your I-589 and other documents you submit, before they begin the interview. It seems like they also go over the documents you submit on the day of the interview when they are reviewing your oral statements and juxtaposing them with the evidence/materials you submitted before they make a decision.

I can’t imagine you’re being interviewed by someone who has no idea about the facts of your case. How would they be able to formulate questions that are tailored to your case, especially the tricky ones? Perhaps they rely on what you put on your I-589 and then later look at other materials/evidence submitted? I do believe that most of them go over whatever you had submitted before the interview, though.

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Sara December 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Thanks, Jamie! Hope you’ve been well, too 🙂
You’re right about the NJ office. That guide I came across says that Newark officers are pre-assigned their cases.
I always thought it’s strange that that’s not the standard across all offices.

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Jason Dzubow December 11, 2017 at 9:28 pm

My understanding is that the officers specialize in certain countries, so they are more knowledgeable about those countries. They do read the cases in advance, but it may be the morning of the interview. It seems to me that there is little point in reading the cases before then, as some applicants will not show up, and then any work the officers did will be a waste of time. But I really do not know how they operate. Take care, Jason

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santon December 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Hi Sara,
Thank you for sharing your experience it helps out a lot .
Many many thanks.

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santon December 11, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Hi Jamie,
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Many many thanks again.
Take care.

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Jamie December 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

China 31,176 1,328 29, 848 20.3% 78.7% 17.7%

Hi Jason,

In the scenario above, are they saying that 78.7% of the cases that are unrepresented are denied; and 17.7% of the cases represented are denied?

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Jason Dzubow December 11, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Yes – the chart gives statistics for denied asylum cases only. I fudged this a bit in my post by assuming that cases that were not denied were granted. This is true, but “denied” asylum cases might also be granted for other relief, such as Withholding of Removal, Torture Convention or even something completely different such as Cancellation of Removal. The chart does not give that info, unfortunately. It would be nice to have a fuller picture of what is happening. Take care, Jason

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santon December 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Hi Jason,Thanks for your blog we are always getting atleast something out of it .
I wanted to ask few questions.When I submitted my I -589 I did not submit my story, just submitted few immigration papers only. Now I am in NY and I hope they will call me in few months for the interview. So when do I have to submit my story and other documents related to my case? So will there be any time left between the day they call me for the interview and the day I receive the letter?As always we appreciate your answer.
Thanks.
Santon

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Sara December 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Hey Santon,
NY applicant here, so I can try to answer your questions based on my personal experience until Jason replies.
We submit any additional evidence on the day of the interview. I would say this applies to the statement, as well. Other offices require that you submit such documents in advance, but the NY asylum office is not one of them.
I had two and half weeks to prepare between the date I received my interview notice, and the interview date. This has been true of two other applicants on here from NY.
The above is based on my personal experience, and the assumption that you will be interviewed at the NY asylum office in Bethpage. I believe other parts of NY are covered by the Newark office.

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Jason Dzubow December 11, 2017 at 9:07 pm

And even if NY allows day-of filing, I recommend you file it in advance – that gives the officer more time to review the file (assuming they look at the file before the interview day) and more time for you to review it, rather than submitting it at the last minute. But if your lawyer is comfortable with that, he or she may know more than me about the local office and how to do things best there. Take care, Jason

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santon December 11, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Hi Sara,
Thank you for sharing your experience it helps out a lot .
Many many thanks.
santon

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Sara December 12, 2017 at 1:36 am

You’re welcome 🙂

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Jason Dzubow December 11, 2017 at 6:47 pm

In our office (Virginia), all evidence – including the story – must be submitted at least one week before the interview. I am not sure about the rule in NY. You can email them to ask. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Normally, the interview letter arrives 2 or 3 weeks before the interview. Take care, Jason

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santon December 11, 2017 at 10:28 pm

Hi Jason,
Thank you for your reply with more information about the interview letter.Take care.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 7:11 am

We don’t do mandamus cases, and it is better to find a local lawyer. Our local office of Catholic Charities does such cases, so maybe the office in CA will do them too. If not, they are a good source for a recommendation on a lawyer. Good luck, Jason

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

I already responded to this – it looks like standard language and I think it says nothing about your specific case. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow December 27, 2017 at 9:38 pm

I am out of the office and I do not remember exactly, but I am pretty sure the case was interviewed according to the Bulletin (if it wasn’t, I think I would remember that. Take care, Jason

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