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. As we review whether you established good cause for rescheduling 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. For purposes of employment authorization, rescheduling your interview is considered an applicant-caused delay. This applicant-caused delay will begin the date the asylum office cancels your interview and will remain unresolved until you appear for your rescheduled interview. If there is an unresolved applicant-caused delay on the date you file an application for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.

If you do not establish good cause, we will deny your reschedule request 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 in lawful immigration status, we will administratively close and dismiss your asylum application 46 days from the date of the missed interview, and you will not be eligible for employment authorization based on your asylum application. 
  • you are not in lawful immigration status, then we will refer your asylum application to an immigration judge for adjudication in removal proceedings 46 days from the date of your missed interview. Also, you will not be eligible for employment authorization, unless you establish exceptional circumstances under the procedures described below.

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 (INA), section 240(e)(1), to include compelling circumstances such as: 

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

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. Less compelling circumstances will not be classified as exceptional circumstances.                                                       

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

  1. Submit a written explanation to the asylum office in accordance with the instructions. Your explanation must describe in detail the exceptional circumstances that caused your failure to appear or request to reschedule. If applicable, 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.

  1. Keep evidence to show that you submitted an explanation of exceptional circumstances.

After Your Request is Submitted

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

  1. The asylum office finds exceptional circumstances;
  2. The asylum office does not find exceptional circumstances; or
  3. 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 circumstance submission. The asylum office will send you a “Request for Additional Information.”

Establishing Exceptional Circumstances

If you have established exceptional circumstances, the asylum office will notify you in writing of the determination and the next steps in the process.

If you have not received a decision on your asylum application from the asylum office:

The asylum office will mail you an Interview Reschedule Notice.

For purposes of employment authorization, failing to appear for your asylum interview is considered an applicant-caused delay that will begin the date you fail to appear. If you demonstrate exceptional circumstances for your failure to appear, this applicant-caused delay will be resolved on the date you attend your rescheduled asylum interview. Once the applicant-caused delay is resolved, you may file an initial application for employment authorization based on your pending asylum application. If there is an unresolved applicant-caused delay on the date you file an application for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.

If you have received a decision on your asylum application from the asylum office and:

  • You are in lawful immigration status, the asylum office will reopen your asylum application and reschedule your interview. The asylum office will mail you a new interview appointment notice in the near future. For purposes of employment authorization, failing to appear for your interview is considered an applicant-caused delay that will begin the date you fail to appear and will remain unresolved until you attend a rescheduled interview. If there is an unresolved applicant-caused delay on the date you file an application for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.
  • You are not in lawful immigration status and have been referred to immigration court for removal proceedings, jurisdiction over your asylum application will remain with the immigration court until certain steps are taken, and the immigration court and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decide whether to dismiss your removal proceedings.

Requesting Dismissal of Removal Proceedings

If you established exceptional circumstances and you want USCIS to reopen your case and consider your asylum application, you must contact the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Chief Counsel (ICE OCC) handling your case before or at your next hearing. You must provide ICE OCC with a copy of the “Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances” notice provided to you by the asylum office stating that the asylum office finds 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. ICE OCC will decide on a case-by-case basis whether, as a matter of discretion, to join a motion to dismiss. 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” notice, and if the immigration judge grants the motion to dismiss removal proceedings, the 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. Your failure to appear for the asylum interview will be resolved as of the date the asylum office issued you the “Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances” notice.

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. For employment authorization purposes, the applicant-caused delay resulting from you failing to appear for the asylum interview will be resolved as of the date the asylum office issued you the “Determination Demonstrating Exceptional Circumstances” notice.

Failure to Establish Exceptional Circumstances

If you have not received a decision on your asylum application from the asylum office and:

Your scheduled interview appointment has not occurred yet, the asylum office will issue a Denial of Asylum Interview Reschedule Request, and you must attend your scheduled interview.

Your scheduled interview appointment time has passed, you missed your interview, and:

You are not in lawful immigration status:

  • We will refer your asylum application to an immigration judge 46 days after the date of your missed interview.
  • We will consider your failure to appear for the scheduled asylum interview an applicant-caused delay. If it is not resolved on the date you file for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.

You are in lawful immigration status:

  • We will administratively close and dismiss your asylum application 46 days from the date of the missed interview.
  • Your failure to appear for your asylum interview will remain an applicant-caused delay. If it is not resolved on the date you file for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.

If you have received a decision on your asylum application from the asylum office:

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.

Your failure to appear for your asylum interview will remain an applicant-caused delay. If it is not resolved on the date you file for employment authorization, we will deny your application for employment authorization.

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