asylum seekers and refugees become citizens Mostly asylum seekers and refugees become naturalized U.S. citizens at a ceremony June 20, 2016, in New York. (Official DHS photo by Jetta Disco)

USCIS to Focus on Latest Asylum Applications to Stem Backlog

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to give precedence to the most recently filed asylum applications in a bid to stem its backlog.

The agency announced it will return to a “first in, last out” approach to interviews, which was used routinely until 2014.

The USCIS asylum application backlog has grown by more than 1,750 percent in the past five years, and is currently standing at 311,000 pending asylum cases.

To address the issue, the agency has identified three priorities for scheduling affirmative asylum interviews. The first priority will be interviewing applicants whose original interview had to be rescheduled, followed by applications that have been pending for fewer than 21 days. The next priority will be to work through all pending applications from the newest backwards.

USCIS say this system will allow them to identify fraudulent or frivolous claims earlier, and start removal proceedings against individuals.

“Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate asylum seekers,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”

More information about how USCIS will schedule interviews can be found at Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling.

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