The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recently released a useful fact sheet regarding the asylum backlog currently facing individuals seeking asylum before the USCIS Asylum Office. The fact sheet is available here.
Like other Asylum Offices, the Chicago Asylum Office also has a backlog of affirmative applications due to the increase in requests for credible and reasonable fear interviews and applications for asylum. The Chicago Office has recently hired additional asylum officers in response to this increase and the addition of staff will hopefully begin to bring down the backlog of applications soon. In the meantime, attorneys representing asylum seekers before the Chicago Asylum Office should be aware that only about 1/3 of all affirmative applicants are being scheduled for interviews in the normal 60-day window. These applicants are selected at random.
Please note that if your client is not interviewed during the 60-day window due to no fault of her own (i.e., your client did not request that the interview be rescheduled), your client should become eligible to apply for employment authorization 150 days after filing her asylum application.
If you are a pro bono attorney representing an NIJC asylum client before the Chicago Asylum Office and have questions about the backlog particular to your case, please email the NIJC point of contact for your case.