There are important changes regarding asylum interview scheduling by USCIS. This is very new so we are still in the process of getting more information, but we want to give you a summary. Please also read the decision published on USCIS website:
Here are the 4 main points regarding the new asylum interview scheduling:
Those who already have a date for their interview: This will remain the same (for example if you have an interview on March 15, 2018, this will not change)
Those who had to reschedule their asylum interview: You will receive a rescheduled date very shortly. (This means you will wait only a few weeks if your asylum interview had to be changed)
Those who apply now, or those who have not applied yet: USCIS will schedule an interview within 21 days of the application date. (This is important because it means that you must have all your evidence and supporting documents ready, translated in English because your interview will take place very quickly, and of course, if possible you should have a lawyer.)
Those who already have applied, even a long time ago: You will now become the last priority for an interview date. Further, the interview dates will be scheduled in reversed order. For example, if 3 people applied in 2017, 2016, and 2015, USCIS will now schedule the person who applied in 2017 first, then the person who applied in 2016, and then the person who applied in 2015.
This of course is extremely unfair and unfortunate. We will keep you informed on what actions can be taken to protest that decision.
Please note that you are still eligible to file for extensions of work authorization during this time.
Here are out immediate recommendations:
Anyone who has filed within the past year, especially in the past six months, should start preparing for an interview and get all their evidence in order.
If you are planning to apply for asylum, please make sure to have a legal consultation with an attorney at RIF. The lawyer will tell you what evidence and supporting documents you will need to gather before submitting your application.
Note: RIF provides information, support, and access to resources for asylum seekers in New York. None of our written publications should be construed as providing legal advice to asylum seekers or creating an attorney-client relationship. We encourage asylum seekers to attend RIF's legal workshops, where they can seek legal advice from volunteer asylum attorneys.