Official Website of the United States Department of Homeland Security
Share This PageShare This Page PrintPrint

Establishing Good Cause or Exceptional Circumstances

Good Cause

You must establish good cause if you need to reschedule your asylum interview prior to the date of your interview, on the date of the interview, or within 45 days after the interview date, or if your interview has already been rescheduled on one or more occasion. 

Good cause is defined as a reasonable excuse for being unable to appear for an asylum interview. What may be a reasonable excuse for one applicant may not be reasonable when looking at the circumstances of another applicant. In reviewing whether there is good cause for your failure to appear at your interview, the asylum office considers the facts and circumstances of each case individually. Repeated requests to reschedule are discouraged and may affect the determination of good cause. 

If you establish good cause, the asylum office will reschedule your asylum interview for a later date and will notify you in writing of the new interview date, time and location. The rescheduling of your interview will stop the 180-day asylum Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Clock either on the date that the asylum office cancels your interview or on the date of your interview, whichever occurs earlier. The 180-day asylum EAD Clock will remain stopped until you appear for your rescheduled interview. 

If you do not establish good cause your reschedule request will be denied in writing. You must attend your scheduled asylum interview or the asylum office will treat your case as a missed interview (failure to appear). If you already missed your interview and you are not in lawful immigration status, 46 days from the date of your missed interview your asylum application will be referred to an immigration judge for adjudication in removal proceedings before the EOIR. If you are in lawful immigration status, your asylum application will be administratively closed and dismissed 46 days from the date of the missed interview. 

Exceptional Circumstances

You must establish exceptional circumstances in order to reschedule your asylum interview if more than 45 days have passed since your interview. 

Exceptional circumstances are defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 240(e)(1) to include such circumstances as: 

  • Battery or extreme cruelty to you or your child or parent;
  • Serious illness of you, your spouse, child or parent; or
  • The death of your spouse, child, or parent. 

Other less compelling circumstances are not classified as exceptional circumstances.                                                                                                                           

Exceptional circumstances are not only limited to the examples provided in the INA § 240(e)(1). The asylum office will examine the facts and circumstances of your case to determine if you have demonstrated exceptional circumstances. 

To request that the asylum office find exceptional circumstances for your failure to appear at your interview you must:

  1. Submit a written explanation to the asylum office by mail, fax, or email. Your explanation must describe in detail the exceptional circumstances which caused your failure to appear. You must also include an explanation for any delay between your missed interview date and your request to reschedule your interview because of exceptional circumstances.
  2. Include any available documents that support your explanation. These documents may include, but are not limited to, medical records, police reports, and birth or death certificates. 

Any document that is not in English must be accompanied by a full English language translation, along with a certification by a translator that the translation is complete and accurate, and that the translator is competent to translate from the relevant language into English.   

After Your Request is Submitted

The asylum office will carefully consider your submission. There are three possible results:

  1. If the asylum office does not have enough information to make a determination, the office may request more evidence from you, or request you come to the asylum office for an interview relating to your exceptional circumstances submission. The asylum office will send you a “Request for Additional Information;”
  2. The asylum office finds exceptional circumstances and sends you a “Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances;” or
  3. The asylum office does not find exceptional circumstances and sends you a “Determination of Failure to Demonstrate Exceptional Circumstances” notice. 

 Establishing Exceptional Circumstances

The asylum office will notify you in writing of the determination and the next steps in the process. 

If you are in lawful immigration status, the asylum office will reopen your asylum application and reschedule you for your interview. The asylum office will mail you a new interview appointment notice in the near future. Your 180-day asylum EAD Clock will be restarted on the date you attend a rescheduled asylum interview. 

If you are not in lawful immigration status and are in removal proceedings, jurisdiction over your asylum application will remain with the immigration court until certain steps are taken, and the immigration court and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decide whether to dismiss your case. 

Because you demonstrated exceptional circumstances for your failure to appear at your asylum interview, your 180-day asylum EAD Clock may be restarted if your removal proceedings are dismissed by the Immigration Court and the asylum office reopens your asylum application. The asylum office will restart your 180-day asylum EAD Clock on the date you attend a rescheduled asylum interview. 

Requesting Dismissal of Removal Proceedings

If you wish to have USCIS reopen your case and consider your asylum application, you must contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Chief Counsel (ICE OCC) handling your case before or at your next hearing. You must provide them with a copy of your “Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances” notice stating that USCIS has found that you have demonstrated exceptional circumstances for missing your asylum interview. Contact information for the ICE OCCs is available on ICE’s website

You may then request that the ICE OCC join in your motion to dismiss removal proceedings. USCIS cannot ensure that all motions will be granted. The decision whether to join in a motion to dismiss is a matter within the ICE OCC’s discretion and is decided on a case-by-case basis. If the ICE OCC does not join in your motion to dismiss, you may file your own motion to dismiss with the immigration court, or you may make a verbal request at a hearing with an immigration judge. 

The decision to grant your motion to dismiss rests with the immigration judge regardless of whether the ICE OCC joins in the motion. Please note that all immigration court filings must follow local court requirements and the requirements in the EOIR’s Immigration Court Practice Manual, which is available at www.justice.gov/eoir

WARNING: If you are before the immigration court in removal proceedings, jurisdiction over your asylum application is with the immigration court. Jurisdiction will remain with the immigration court unless the immigration judge grants a motion to dismiss your removal proceedings. You must attend all scheduled hearings with the immigration court or you may be ordered removed from the United States. 

Removal Proceedings Dismissed

If USCIS has issued you a Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances, and if the immigration judge grants the motion to dismiss removal proceedings, the USCIS asylum office will reopen your asylum application and reschedule you for an interview. Once your removal proceedings have been dismissed, you may expedite the rescheduling of your asylum interview with the asylum office by mailing, emailing, or faxing a copy of the immigration judge’s order dismissing removal proceedings to the asylum office listed on your notice. For asylum office addresses and contact information, see the “Asylum Office Locator”.   The asylum office will restart your 180-day asylum EAD clock on the date you attend a rescheduled asylum interview. 

Immigration Proceedings Not Dismissed

If the immigration judge denies the motion to dismiss your immigration proceedings, jurisdiction over your asylum application will remain with the immigration court and USCIS cannot reopen your asylum application. 

You are not eligible to apply for or renew employment authorization because you failed to appear for a scheduled asylum interview before an asylum officer. (See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(4)). Your 180-day EAD asylum Clock stopped on the date you failed to appear for your interview and will not be restarted. Please be advised that any EAD issued to you by USCIS based on a pending asylum application will terminate at the expiration of the EAD listed on the card or 60 days from the date of the immigration judge denied your motion to dismiss, whichever date is later. 

Failure to Establish Exceptional Circumstances

If you do not establish exceptional circumstances the asylum office will send you a “Determination of Failure to Demonstrate Exceptional Circumstances” notice.  The asylum office cannot reschedule your asylum interview.  Jurisdiction over your asylum application will remain with the immigration court.

WARNING: You must attend all scheduled hearings with the immigration court or you may be ordered removed from the United States.   

You will not be eligible to apply for or renew employment authorization because you failed to appear for a scheduled asylum interview before an asylum officer, and failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for missing your asylum interview. (See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(4)).

Your 180-day EAD asylum Clock stopped on the date you failed to appear for your interview and will not be restarted. Please be advised that any EAD issued to you by USCIS that is based on a pending asylum application will terminate at the expiration of the EAD listed on the card or 60 days from the date of the “Determination of Failure to Demonstrate Exceptional Circumstances” notice, whichever date is later.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/03/2013