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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is housed within DHS and oversees immigration to the United States by issuing visas and adjudicating asylum. USCIS officers are responsible for credible fear screenings to determine eligibility for asylum, which they then refer to immigration judges in DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. This process often takes years due to a backlog of cases. The Biden administration put forth an August 2021 proposed rule aimed at revamping this process by allowing USCIS asylum officers to process claims rather than refer them to immigration judges. Advocates have outlined “reasons to be hopeful and grounds for concern” regarding the new rule: while it could present another effective pathway for immigrants/refugees to gain asylum status and remain in the United States, it would significantly reduce their access to counsel and therefore threaten their due process rights along the way.