Asylum applications with the USCIS, meaning asylum applications that are not filed in Immigration Court during removal proceedings, have been facing increased backlogs over the past 4 years. There are currently 250,000 cases pending with the 8 Asylum Offices nationwide. The wait time for an interview for most applicants is currently 2 to 6 years depending on which Asylum Office has jurisdiction for your case.
Since cases are taking so long to process, applicants find themselves in situations where they have to move which can potentially change which Office should hear your case. If you do move, like most non-U.S. citizens, you will need to file Form AR-11 with the USCIS indicating that you have changed addresses. However, you should also take the additional step of notifying the local Asylum Office that you have moved. This is very important for a number of reasons:
- You want to receive correspondence from the local Asylum Office, including your interview date;
- Your new address may fall outside the jurisdiction of the Asylum Office and if you attend your interview, the Officer may cancel your case and transfer it to the new office which will cause further delays. The Asylum Office does have the discretion to hear your case even if you fall outside of its jurisdiction, but that would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
You can notify the local Asylum Office by mailing them a form AR-11 or by writing them a letter.
If my case transfers to a new asylum office, do I go to the back of the line at that new office?
No. Cases are heard at offices based on the day that the USCIS, not the local asylum office, first received your case. If your case is transferred to a new office, you hold on to that date from when you initially filed your application. What that means is that after your case is transferred and processed, you should be in the same place in the line as you were before but at a different office.
That being said, some offices have longer wait times than others, so you may find yourself having to wait more or less time depending on that Office’s case load.
If my case is being heard in the Immigration Court, how should I notify the Court of my change of address?
If you are in removal proceedings, you will have to inform both the Court (the Executive Office of Immigration Review) as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s attorney (at the Office of the Chief Counsel) through Form EOIR-33. Depending on where you moved and the circumstances in your case, you may want to also file a Motion to Change Venue, which means you would be asking the Court to change which Immigration Court will hear your case. The decision to ask to change venue and the likelihood of it being granted is beyond the scope of this blog post. You should consult with the attorney representing you if you think you should pursue a change of venue.
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