Can I choose to file my I-589 asylum application with an office known to grant more cases?

U.S. law does not allow applicants to shop around for which Asylum Office to file their I-589 with.

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Question

I am a diplomat from Iraq and have suffered persecution in my country. I left my country six months ago and now live in New York City. I have heard that the Arlington Asylum office grants more Iraqi cases than the New York Asylum office. Can I file my asylum application so that I will be interviewed at the Arlington Asylum office?

Answer

There are eight Asylum Offices in the United States. Each Asylum Office is allowed to interview only those asylum applicants who live in their jurisdiction, which are specific counties, cities, and states.

The jurisdiction of each Asylum Office was created by the federal government to prevent asylum applicants from picking and choosing which Asylum Office they would like to file their claim with. You can find the list of Asylum Offices and their jurisdictions on the asylum application instructions.

You must file your asylum application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Service Center affiliated with the USCIS Asylum Office that has jurisdiction over where you live.

Since you reside in New York City, you must file your asylum application with the Vermont service Center. Your asylum interview will be held at the New Jersey Asylum Office, which has jurisdiction over people who reside in Manhattan.

The asylum officer who conducts your interview can question whether you actually reside at the address you wrote on your application for asylum. The officer can require you to provide evidence that you actually live where you say you do. Your case may be canceled or postponed until you provide this documentation. If you fail to provide evidence that you reside within the jurisdiction of the Asylum Office handling your claim, the officer can refer your case to Immigration Court.

It is important that you apply to the proper asylum office. An officer’s conclusion that you have lied about your residence will remain in your file even though you can apply for asylum again in Immigration Court, and hurt your credibility, thus undermining your ability to present a convincing asylum case.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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