New policy memo from the Executive Office of Immigration Review
November 30, 2018
Asylum applications received by the Executive Office of Immigration Review have more than tripled since 2014 and currently, there are more than 350,000 cases in immigration proceedings with an asylum application pending. On November 19, 2018, the EOIR issued a policy memorandum announcing that it is EOIR policy to complete adjudications of asylum applications within 180 days to the maximum extent possible. The memorandum seeks to comply with INA § 208(d)(5)(A)(iii) which provides that in the absence of exceptional circumstances, final administrative adjudication of the asylum application, not including appeal, shall be completed within 180 days after the date an application is filed.
As a result of this policy memorandum, Judges may only grant continuances that would result in missing the 180-day deadline, if the asylum applicant in removal proceedings can establish good cause for the continuance and show exceptional circumstances. The memorandum states that good cause that warrants a continue in general does not necessarily – and in every case- constitute exceptional circumstances that justify exceeding the 180-day deadline in INA § 208(d)(5)(A)(iii). Thus, once the application is filed with the Immigration Court, whether by mail, in person at the court clerk’s office, or in court, the Court should adjudicate the application within 180 days unless exceptional circumstances (such as serious illness, battery or extreme cruelty, national security or foreign policy considerations or exceptional and extremely unusual hardship) are shown.
What does this mean for asylum applicants in removal proceedings? It means that asylum applicants and their attorneys need to be prepared to present their case (documentary evidence, lay and witness testimony, corroborating evidence) quickly and may have a more difficult time requesting continuances to obtain corroborating documentary evidence or expert testimony.