How to reduce the waiting time for political asylum in the USA: advice from an immigration lawyer - ForumDaily
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How to reduce the waiting time for political asylum in the USA: advice from an immigration lawyer

America is currently experiencing a real immigration boom. Hundreds of migrants enter the country across the border with Mexico every day. Most of them ask for political asylum. US immigration courts are overwhelmed with 3 million cases! Due to the workload, these cases stall for many months or even years. But Ekaterina Muratova, immigration lawyer in the USA, says: if everything is done correctly, it is quite possible to obtain political asylum in America within a year.

Immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova. Photos from the personal archive

American courts have never seen such queues before. Statistics show that for every immigration judge in the country there are now approximately 5 thousand cases! In traditionally immigrant states like Illinois and California, asylum seekers now have their cases scheduled for 2027-28. And the queue for political asylum in New York has already lined up until the 2030s!

How to speed up the process of obtaining asylum in the USA

Of course, such a long wait can be beneficial for those who do not have compelling reasons to seek political asylum in the United States. Such people can use this time to find another way to legalize in America - for example, through marriage to a US citizen or through working for an American company. But those who have a strong political case do not want to waste their time waiting for a long time. Among these are Nikolai and Yulia. They show the suitcase: in it are all the documents that they attached to their case. Thanks to this preparation, they were able to obtain approval for political asylum in Orlando in less than a year. They themselves are from Russia and came to the United States through the Mexican border.

“We can't believe it, we entered the US less than a year ago and we already have political asylum! - says the couple. — Of course, we would not have been able to do this without a lawyer. The fact is that at the first meeting, Ekaterina Muratova asked to speed up our case. Then she helped us a lot during preparation for the trial. We ourselves could not even imagine what questions might be asked during the hearing. Plus, the entire suitcase of evidence for the case is the work of Catherine. Because one thing is to know what happened to us in our country, and quite another thing is to correctly present and describe the evidence for obtaining asylum in the United States.”

Nikolai and Yulia received asylum in the United States in less than a year. Photo from personal archive

Often, immigrants try to navigate the asylum process in America on their own. And this is their mistake: statistics show that simply the presence of a lawyer at the first court hearing can play a decisive role in speeding up the process of obtaining asylum in America.

“Recently arrived migrants who enter the country through the southern border are theoretically subject to the expedited processing process. This means that within the first year they must be given a hearing in court to consider their case on the merits. . In practice, of course, this is all delayed due to overload of courts, — says immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova. — But if a client comes to us right away - even before he gets to a preliminary hearing in court - we can help significantly speed up the process of considering an application for asylum in the United States. The lawyer prepares the entire case and at the preliminary hearing declares that we are ready to go to trial in the near future. We take the earliest date the court can give us. In this case, the courts usually cooperate and set a date for the main hearing within a year.”

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Why is this happening? It's simple - the judge trusts the lawyer more than the asylum applicant. And when he sees that the case is completely ready and lying on the table, he understands that the lawyer has already prepared his client for the process as much as possible.

"Let's give an example of the opposite situation“,” shares Ekaterina. — HThe person is given a preliminary hearing. He somehow prepares himself, reads forums and comes to the meeting without a lawyer. If the applicant does not have a lawyer, the judge must explain the entire process to him. This is difficult and time-consuming, especially if through a translator. As a result, these preliminary hearings are often rescheduled to give the person an opportunity to find an immigration lawyer. And a rehearing is scheduled not in a month, but in six months or even a year. Or, for example, a person filled out an application for asylum himself, but he does not have a case. And the judge sees this. He does not want to waste his time and schedule a hearing on the merits until he clearly understands that the defendant’s case is ready. Yes, theoretically, a person can represent himself in immigration court. But people don't always understand what it means to represent yourself in court. This means that a person must be fully responsible for his words, understand what can be said and what to do in a given situation. Such trained people are rare, so often judges do not want to get involved with this. They simply reschedule to allow the person to find an immigration lawyer.”

After the preliminary hearing has been postponed, the person is thrown into the general queue with old and new cases. Therefore, according to lawyers, it is very important to do everything correctly from the very first court hearing.

There are also situations when a case for asylum in the United States is already in court, but a hearing date has not been set. Then lawyers can file motions to have the asylum court hearing put on the court calendar and to choose the closest available date. Statistically, such requests are also granted much more often when they come from law offices. Because if a person is represented at trial by professionals, the judge can be sure that there is at least some kind of case.

“With this petition we are saying that we do not need time to prepare, we are ready to take the earliest date at the discretion of the court. This petition can hang there for a month, or maybe six months. But the court already knows: we don’t need several years to collect documents, we can schedule a hearing for the next month, and we will come with the case.”, says Catherine.

Immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova. Photos from the personal archive

Alternative immigration options to the USA

There are immigrants in America who wait years for their immigration case to be processed. They include those who moved in between 2015 and 17, before then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring new cases to be processed more expeditiously. These people fell into something of an immigration black hole—judges began reviewing the cases of new arrivals, while postponing hearings for those who had previously entered further and further. As a result, many of them have been waiting for the first hearing for almost 10 years. Such people should consider alternative ways to immigrate to America. For example, about a work visa to the USA. The entire process of obtaining it will take about two years. True, there is one nuance here.

"If people entered through Mexico or had any violations of their immigration status during the years of living in the United States, they will have to travel and undergo an interview at the consulate to receive a green card. In principle, if a person does not have a criminal history, immigration violations, illegal work, or the like in his personal biography, then this is a fairly safe process. They can go to the nearest consulate, for example, in Mexico, and get a US immigrant visa there.”, - Ekaterina shares her experience.

Also, people whose cases have already been referred to immigration court for any reason cannot change their status within the United States on the basis of an approved work petition. If they find a company that agrees to issue them a work visa, they will have to go through what is called “voluntary deportation.” To do this, they need to close their case in court, ask to be given the opportunity to leave of their own free will, and be interviewed on the basis of an already approved immigration petition for a work visa at a consulate outside the United States.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read all this on ForumDaily New York.

In which states can you get asylum faster?

Traditionally, the most popular states for immigrants are those where there is a lot of work and have a positive attitude towards foreigners. People most often travel to New York, California, and Illinois. Those who dream of warmth head to Florida, but there may be problems finding work there. North Carolina is becoming increasingly popular among family immigrants - there are jobs there, cheaper housing, and good schools. Of course, the courts in these states will also be busier. Therefore, if you do not care where to start your new life, you can choose less popular states and speed up the process of processing your immigration case. But there are pitfalls here.

“I always ask my clients a question: is your goal to do it quickly or to get a positive result? - says Catherine. - The problem is that the states that are unpopular among migrants are usually fairly conservative states in the center of the country, where approval for political asylum in the United States will be much more difficult to obtain.”

Read also on ForumDaily:

Difficulties and opportunities: how Russians can get to the US, given the new restrictions

Vouching for a refugee: what are the responsibilities and risks of those who are ready to vouch for new immigrants

Refugee problems on the southern border of the United States: an immigration lawyer explained how to solve them

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