For some time now, we've been hearing from the Asylum Division that they would post a "Scheduling Bulletin" to give affirmative asylum seekers a better idea about wait times. Well, the Bulletin has finally arrived, which is--in a sense--good news. But it's also bad news, since now we see exactly how slowly things are progressing at most asylum offices.

First off, if you're curious about the status of your asylum office, check out the Bulletin here. What you'll see is a breakdown of each asylum office and which cases they are currently interviewing (as of July 2015). So, for example, in July 2015, the Arlington Asylum Office was interviewing cases originally filed in August 2013. The chart also lists which cases each office was interviewing over the past few months, so you can see how quickly (or not) each office is moving through its cases.

Most geologists agree: The asylum offices are moving pretty quickly (except for Los Angeles).

Reviewing the Bulletin, a few things jump out at me. First, and most distressing, cases are moving very slowly at most asylum offices, and a few offices--notably Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami--have made no discernible progress in the last four months. One mitigating factor here is that it's summer, a time when the Southern border is particularly busy. Hopefully, once the number of asylum seekers arriving at the border wanes (as it generally does in autumn), the asylum offices will start interviewing more backlogged cases (if you are not familiar with the "asylum backlog," please see this posting).

Another point worth noting is that the two asylum offices with jurisdiction over the Southern border states--Los Angeles and Houston--represent the slowest and the fastest offices, respectively. Los Angeles is currently interviewing cases filed in August 2011 (which is slower than I realized--I had thought they were interviewing cases from 2012) and they have been stuck on the August 2011 cases for the last four months. On the other hand, Houston, Texas is the fastest asylum office. They are interviewing cases filed in April 2014, though they have made almost no progress in the last four months either. What's strange is that there is such disparity along the Southern border. I do not know why resources cannot be distributed more evenly to give some relief to asylum seekers at the LA office.

The only asylum office that has shown significant movement over the last four months is New York. In April 2015, the NY asylum office was interviewing cases filed in January 2013. By July 2015, they were interviewing cases filed in June/July 2013. Newark, New Jersey has also done reasonably well, advancing from December 2012 to April 2013 during the same period.

Rescheduled cases and cases involving children (many of the asylum seekers at the Southern border are children) receive priority over "regular" asylum cases. And according to the Bulletin, the asylum offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami have had many such cases. Presumably this explains the lack of progress in those asylum offices.

Finally, for people with cases pending at one of the sub offices, the Bulletin notes that it "currently does not include asylum interviews occurring outside of the eight asylum offices or the Boston sub-office (e.g. interviews occurring on circuit rides)." "Asylum offices schedule circuit ride interviews as resources permit." The Bulletin suggests that applicants contact the "asylum office with jurisdiction over your case for more detailed information" about the schedule at sub offices. You can find contact information for each asylum office here.

So there you have it. The Bulletin will be updated monthly so you can track how quickly each asylum office is moving through the backlog. Though the current situation is discouraging, at least the Bulletin provides some information about where we stand now, and maybe some hope for those who are waiting.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: