Judge Kristin W. Olmanson

FY 2015 - 2020, Bloomington Immigration Court

Judge Olmanson was appointed as an Immigration Judge in July 1999. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minnesota, and a Juris Doctorate in 1988 from William Mitchell College of Law, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Judge Olmanson served as an assistant district counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Bloomington, Minnesota, from 1996 to 1999. She worked as an assistant regional counsel for INS in its regional office in the Twin Cities from 1991 to 1996. From 1990 to 1991, Judge Olmanson worked as an assistant county attorney for Dakota County in Hastings, Minnesota. She served as a trial attorney for INS in Seattle, Washington, from 1989 to 1990, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 1988 to 1989. Judge Olmanson is a member of the Minnesota Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Olmanson decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Olmanson is recorded as deciding 300 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 64, gave no conditional grants, and denied 236. Converted to percentage terms, Olmanson denied 78.7 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 21.3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Olmanson's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Olmanson's denial rate of 78.7 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Bloomington Immigration Court where Judge Olmanson was based, judges there denied asylum 73.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Olmanson can also be ranked compared to each of the 526 individual immigration judges serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city's immigration court. If judges were ranked from 1 to 526 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 526 represented the lowest - Judge Olmanson here receives a rank of 252. That is 251 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 274 denied asylum at the same rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.

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Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation

If an asylum seeker is not represented by an attorney, almost all (88%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Olmanson, 32% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 19% of asylum seekers are not represented.


Asylum seekers are a diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected, immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers from some nations tend to be more successful than others.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Olmanson, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Mexico. Individuals from this nation made up 13.3 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Olmanson were: Somalia (12.3 %), El Salvador (12%), Guatemala (11%), Ecuador (4.7%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (18.1%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (14.7%), Mexico (11.8%), China (10.2%), India (3.7%), Cuba (2.5%), Haiti (1.8%), Cameroon (1.5%), Venezuela (1.3%), Nepal (1.3%), Nicaragua (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%).

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