More than 1,000 Cubans filed visa applications claiming fear of persecution from October 2018 through January 2019, the latest figures show.
That was more than any other country except Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The number of immigrants claiming a “credible fear of persecution” has jumped from 4,995 in 2008 to 78,564 in 2017, figures show. U.S. officials determined most were legitimate. See breakdown by year.
But some officials suspect many immigrants claim persecution so they can get work permits more quickly. According to a Department of Homeland Security report:
The growing backlog of affirmative asylum filings has lengthened processing times. Applications now often remain pending for well over a year, depending on the jurisdiction, before asylum seekers are even interviewed.
The Asylum Division surmises that this long wait has incentivized individuals to claim asylum in order to obtain work authorization.
…USCIS presumes the backlog has created an incentive to apply for asylum—without a strong case, or even fraudulently, for the purpose of obtaining an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) while the delays continue. The agency suspects that these EAD-motivated applications have exacerbated the backlog.