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DHS and DOJ Issue Rule to Efficiently and Fairly Process Asylum Claims

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are issuing a rule to improve and expedite processing of asylum claims made by noncitizens subject to expedited removal, ensuring that those who are eligible for asylum are granted relief quickly, and those who are not are promptly removed.

The rule authorizes asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to consider the asylum applications of individuals subject to expedited removal who assert a fear of persecution or torture and pass the required credible fear screening. Currently, such cases are decided only by immigration judges within the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Due to existing court backlogs, the process for hearing and deciding these asylum cases currently takes several years on average. When fully implemented, the reforms and new efficiencies will shorten the process to several months for most asylum applicants covered by this rule.

Under the rule, individuals who receive a positive credible fear determination will receive a timely interview with an asylum officer to elicit all relevant and useful information about their asylum claim. Following an interview, USCIS will decide whether to grant asylum, and, if necessary, determine the applicant’s eligibility for withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

Any individual who is not granted asylum by USCIS will be referred for a removal proceeding before an immigration judge. The rule establishes streamlined procedures for these removal proceedings, designed to promote efficient resolution of the case.

The rule will not apply to unaccompanied children, and it will only apply to individuals who are placed into expedited removal proceedings on or after its effective date. The rule will be implemented in phases, starting with a limited number of individuals and subsequently expanding as the USCIS Asylum Division receives additional resources and builds capacity.

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