Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 04040763 (posted Apr. 7, 2004)"
[Federal Register: April 2, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 64)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
[CIS No. 2261-03]
Notice of Circuit Ride Location Changes for the Chicago and
Houston Asylum Offices
AGENCY: Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of
SUMMARY: This notice informs asylum applicants and applicants for
relief under section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central
American Relief Act (NACARA 203) of changes in certain asylum and
NACARA 203 interview locations. Specifically, this notice advises
certain asylum and NACARA 203 applicants within the jurisdiction of the
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), Chicago, Illinois
Asylum Office and the Houston, Texas Asylum Office of a change in the
location where they will be scheduled for an asylum interview.
DATES: This notice is effective May 3, 2004.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joanna Ruppel, Deputy Director, Asylum
Division, Office of Asylum and Refugee Affairs, Bureau of Citizenship
and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 425 I
Street, NW., Attn: ULLICO, Third Floor, Washington, DC 20536; telephone
The CIS has eight Asylum Offices at the following locations:
Arlington, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles,
California; Miami, Florida; Lyndhurst, New Jersey; San Francisco,
California; and Rosedale, New York. Asylum Office locations were chosen
because they are close to where most asylum applicants reside.
While most asylum interviews within the jurisdiction of six of the
eight Asylum Offices are conducted at the home Asylum Offices, Asylum
Officers also routinely travel to CIS District and Sub Offices to
interview asylum applicants and NACARA 203 applicants who reside
farther from the local Asylum Offices. Interviews conducted at these
District and Sub Office locations are known as circuit ride interviews.
As populations of asylum seekers have changed over time, the number of
individuals interviewed at circuit ride locations has significantly
increased for the Houston and Chicago Asylum Offices. In fiscal year
1995, just over 30 percent of applications received by the Houston
Asylum Office and just over 50 percent of the applications received by
the Chicago Asylum Office were from individuals to be interviewed at
circuit ride locations. Since fiscal year 2000, however, approximately
57 percent of the applications received by the Houston Asylum Office
and 64 percent of the applications received by the Chicago Asylum
Office have been from individuals to be interviewed at circuit ride
locations. In contrast, between 4 percent and 20 percent of the
applications filed at the other five Asylum Offices that circuit ride
to CIS District Offices to conduct interviews were filed by individuals
who reside within the circuit ride jurisdictions of those offices.
Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that,
in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the first asylum interview
or hearing on an asylum application shall commence before 45 days after
the date an application is filed, and the final administrative
adjudication of the asylum application, excluding administrative
appeal, shall be completed within 180 days after the date an
application is filed. If a final determination is not made on the
asylum application within 150 days, the applicant becomes eligible to
apply for employment authorization. If the asylum application is still
pending after 180 days, CIS must grant the application for employment
authorization. This statutory provision is based on a key component of
the success of asylum reform, which was to minimize the number of
individuals who could obtain employment authorization by submitting an
application for asylum.
Applicants at circuit ride locations are more likely to become
eligible for employment authorization based on the fact that their
asylum applications often are not adjudicated within 180 days (because
of the infrequency in which circuit ride interviews can be scheduled).
Eliminating and consolidating circuit ride locations would enable the
Chicago and Houston Asylum Offices to adjudicate more asylum
applications within the 180 day timeframe, thus preventing ineligible
applicants from obtaining employment authorization based solely on the
filing of an asylum application and more quickly providing benefits to
those who qualify for asylum.
Conducting asylum interviews at circuit ride locations is less
efficient and more resource intensive than conducting asylum interviews
at Asylum Offices. While on circuit rides Asylum Officers do not have
access to many of the decision-making tools normally available when
interviewing in their home office. Circuit ride interview space is
limited, which restricts the number of interviews that can be scheduled
at the circuit ride site. The time Asylum Officers spend traveling to
circuit ride locations significantly detracts from the overall number
of asylum interviews the Houston and Chicago Asylum Offices are able to
complete each year, resulting in delays in asylum determinations for
many asylum seekers interviewed at circuit ride locations.
To improve its asylum case processing, the CIS will eliminate two
Houston Asylum Office circuit ride locations, Harlingen, Texas, and New
Orleans, Louisiana, requiring certain applicants currently residing
within those jurisdictions to travel to the Houston Asylum Office for
their interview. Also, CIS will eliminate two Chicago Asylum Office
circuit ride locations, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky.
Asylum applicants currently interviewed in Cincinnati will travel to
the CIS District Office in Cleveland, Ohio for their interview.
Applicants currently interviewed in Louisville, Kentucky, will travel
to the Chicago Asylum Office for their interview.
Nationally, most existing circuit ride locations will be unchanged
and Asylum Officers will continue to circuit ride to the majority of
ride locations. However, elimination and/or consolidation of the
circuit ride locations noted below will reduce the number of interview
locations that require Asylum Officer travel and enable Asylum Officers
to conduct more interviews each trip at the consolidated circuit ride
locations. In making the determination to eliminate certain circuit
ride locations, the CIS has carefully considered the additional burden
the changes will make to some asylum seekers and NACARA 203 applicants
who will be required to travel greater distances for their asylum
interviews. However, the CIS determined that the benefit of more timely
adjudications for a larger number of asylum seekers outweighs the
burden certain asylum seekers will experience in traveling a greater
distance to their interviews. Consequently, the CIS is giving notice of
the following changes.
Houston Asylum Office
Effective May 3, 2004, all asylum and NACARA 203 applicants who
reside within the jurisdiction of the CIS District Office in Harlingen,
Texas, will have their asylum and/or NACARA 203 interviews conducted at
the Houston Asylum Office. Also, all asylum and NACARA 203 applicants
who reside within the jurisdiction of the CIS District Office in New
Orleans, Louisiana, except residents of Arkansas, Tennessee, and
Mississippi (who currently interview in Memphis, Tennessee) will have
their asylum and/or NACARA 203 interviews conducted at the Houston
Asylum Office. The Houston Asylum Office will no longer circuit ride to
Harlingen, Texas, or New Orleans, Louisiana. Residents of Arkansas,
Tennessee and Mississippi who are currently being interviewed in the
Memphis Sub Office will continue to be interviewed there. All other
Houston Asylum Office circuit ride sites--Denver, Colorado; El Paso,
Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Salt Lake City, Utah--will continue to
serve as circuit ride interview locations.
Chicago Asylum Office
Effective May 3, 2004, the Chicago Asylum Office will no longer
circuit ride to Cincinnati, Ohio. All asylum and NACARA 203 applicants
who reside within the state of Ohio zip code areas 43000-43399 (the
Columbus zip code area), 43400-43699 (the Toledo zip code area), 44800-
44999 (the Mansfield zip code area), 45000-45299 (the Cincinnati zip
code area), 45300-45599 (the Dayton zip code area), 45600-45699 (the
Chilicothe zip code area), 45800-45899 (the Lima zip code area), and
the State of Indiana zip code areas 47000-47099 will have their asylum
and/or NACARA 203 interviews conducted in the Chicago Asylum Office.
All asylum and NACARA 203 applicants who reside within the state of
Ohio zip code areas 43700-43899 (the Zanesville zip code area) and
45700-45799 (the Athens zip code area) will have their circuit ride
interviews conducted at the CIS District Office in Cleveland, Ohio,
instead of at the CIS Sub Office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
All asylum and NACARA 203 applicants who reside in the state of
Kentucky zip code areas 40000-40299 (the Louisville zip code area) and
41000-41099 (the Cincinnati zip code area) will have their interviews
conducted in the Chicago Asylum Office, instead of at the CIS Sub
Office in Louisville, Kentucky.
Each asylum and NACARA 203 applicant affected by these changes in
interview locations will be notified of the changed interview location
when he or she is sent an Interview Notice, notifying the applicant of
the date, time, and place of the interview. Interviews that have
already been scheduled to take place will not be affected by this
notice and will be conducted as scheduled.
Dated: March 29, 2004.
Director, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
[FR Doc. 04-7403 Filed 4-01-04; 8:45 am]
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