USCIS Reverts to Prior Derivative Asylee Interview Policy

In accordance with two recent executive orders, the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be reverting to its previous policy for interviewing “derivative asylees,” people who immigrate with their family members when they seek refugee or asylum status. This shift back to the old policy will significantly reduce the strain on the immigration system, helping to speed up the process for relatives of refugees and asylees seeking to join their loved ones in the United States. However, some people will still need to interview to be considered a derivative asylee.

What is a Derivative Asylee?

In simple terms, a derivative asylee or derivative refugee is a close family member who intends to accompany someone else who has already applied for asylum or refugee status (known as the primary asylee or primary refugee). This includes people who came with the primary asylee on their journey to the United States, as well as those who follow afterwards. Legally, there are two types of people who can apply for derivative asylee status: spouses of a primary asylee, and children of a primary asylee under the age of 21.

The Derivative Asylee Interview Policy

Prior to November 2020, the policy of the United States with respect to derivative asylees was to evaluate whether an interview was necessary on a case-by-case basis. The United States already implements a background check system for all applicants seeking refugee or asylum status, including derivative asylees. Interviews were only required in cases where a person’s petition or supporting documentation had issues, or if there was a potential problem identified during the background check process.

The Change in Interview Policy in November 2020

Starting in November 2020, USCIS changed its policy about interviewing derivative asylees and derivative refugees. From that point onward, anyone seeking derivative asylum or refugee status would need to be interviewed by USCIS, regardless of whether their application had any issues or if their background check identified potential problems. This substantially slowed down the process of becoming a derivative asylee, stretching resources thin and delaying the application process by months.

Reverting Back to Normal

With the most recent directive, USCIS is now going back to its pre-November 2020 policy, so interviews will only be necessary under certain circumstances. This way, applicants seeking to become a derivative asylee will be able to join their loved ones in the United States with relatively minimal interruption. It will also help to speed up the process for other applicants, who will experience a less severe waiting time from USCIS trying to work through its backlog of asylum applicants.


For more than 40 years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in personal injury cases, as well as immigration, real estate, and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to personal injury law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page.

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