Are There Quotas on How Many People Can Apply for Asylum in the U.S.?
UPDATED: March 31, 2014
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There are no quotas on the number of people who can apply and receive asylum status within the United States. Similarly, there are no quotas by country for asylum applicants. Despite the lack of a cap or quota for asylum applicants, you should not delay in submitting your application, for several reasons.
Allow Time for Mistakes and Additional Documentation
First, any application for an authorized entry into the United States takes times and patience. If the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) decides that you need to submit more documentation with your application, you will need additional time to finish the process. If you submitted the wrong type of application, you may have to start over, which could result in a missed filing deadlines. For example, the definitions of refugee and asylee (asylum applicants) are very similar. However, each requires a separate process. If you submitted an application as a refugee instead of an asylee, you would have to restart the process with asylum paperwork, instead of refugee paperwork. Failure to submit your asylum application within one year of your entry into the U.S. could result in a denial of your application.
Allow Time for Denial of Your Application
The second reason you want to start early is to prepare for a possible denial of your asylum application. Even though you do not qualify for asylum status, you may be eligible for a different type of visa or authorized entry. Most other types of visas do have quotas, or caps. Refugees, for example, were capped at 78,000 in 1999. Immigration law also set caps or quotas on the number of visas by country. If you were delayed in your asylum application, then had to change to a different type of application, you may miss important filing deadlines.
Getting to Work As Soon As Possible
Finally, if you need or want to seek employment, you cannot do so until 150 days has passed since your application was completed. If you want to work before your asylum application is approved, you must obtain authorization. The sooner you file and complete your asylum application, the sooner you will be able to work in the United States. Once your application is approved, you will be authorized to work as well. Even though not expressly required, you may still want to obtain a green card, which is capped at 10,000 each year.
Even though quotas do not directly affect the asylum application process, quotas can still impose restrictions on other options to obtain a lawful entry status.