Due to an increasingly massive backlog at USCIS, affirmative asylum seekers are waiting years – sometimes ten years or more – to be scheduled for an asylum interview and receive a decision. Among other consequences, this backlog delays asylum seekers’ reunification with family members and forces asylum seekers to live in a distressing state of immigration limbo.
In 2016, our firm filed an affirmative asylum application with USCIS for an Eritrean client. After the application had been pending for five years, we asked USCIS to expedite the case. Despite strong evidence that the delay was causing our client severe psychological anguish, USCIS summarily denied our request. When the case had been pending for over six years, we decided to file a mandamus action against USCIS in federal court. A mandamus action is a civil action (lawsuit) asking a federal court to force an agency to take action after there has been an unreasonable delay. In this case, we sued USCIS and asked the court to order USCIS to finally schedule our client’s asylum interview. After filing our complaint, USCIS decided to “settle” the case and scheduled an asylum interview for our client without a court order. Our client had his asylum interview a month later, and a month after that - over seven years after filing his initial asylum application - our client was granted asylum! He is now on his way to becoming a lawful permanent resident and eventually a US citizen!
Nobody should have to wait seven years to find out whether they will receive protection in the United States. If your affirmative asylum application has been pending for a long time, we encourage you to reach out to us to see if a mandamus action is right for your case.