Exceptions to Asylum Application One-Year Filing Deadline

Exceptions to Asylum Application One-Year Filing Deadline

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What is an asylum application one-year filing deadline?

The one-year filing deadline refers to a time limit imposed on individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.

According to U.S. immigration law, individuals who wish to apply for asylum must do so within one year of their last arrival in the U.S.

Asylum seekers who entered the U.S. on a visa, must file Form I-589 with USCIS.

Failure to meet this deadline may result in the denial of the asylum application, unless the applicant can demonstrate changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances that led to the delay in filing.

  • For example, if an asylum applicant entered the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa on November 1, 2023, and filed Form I-589 with USCIS on November 1, 2024, the application will be considered timely.

Important things to keep in mind when filing an asylum application:

  • An asylum application (Form I-589) is considered filed on the date it is received by USCIS, or
  • Under certain circumstances, the date an asylum application was mailed to USCIS. You will need to provide evidence demonstrating that the application was mailed within the one-year deadline. 
  • If the last day of the one-year deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, filing the asylum application on the next business day is considered timely.
  • Not knowing the one-year deadline does not excuse an asylum seeker from complying with the timely filing requirement
  • It is recommended to mail your application via express mail with a tracking number, and keep the receipt for your records.

If an asylum seeker fails to file the application within the one-year period, he/she will be barred from applying for asylum.

The one-year filing deadline does not apply to following individuals:

  • Unaccompanied children: an unaccompanied child is a child under the age of 18 who has no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. who is able to provide care and physical custody;
  • Withholding of Removal seekers: Withholding of Removal is a form of protection granted to individuals who can demonstrate a credible fear of persecution or a clear probability of suffering persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if they were to be returned to their home country.

Exceptions to asylum application one-year filing deadline

There are two exceptions to the one-year asylum application filing deadline:

  • Changed circumstances
  • Extraordinary circumstances

Changed circumstances exception

Changed circumstances that materially affect an applicant’s eligibility for asylum are the first exception to the one-year deadline requirement.

To show that the changed circumstances exception applies to your case, you need to prove the following:

  1. Show the existence of changed circumstances;
  2. Show that the changed circumstances are material to the applicant’s asylum eligibility; and
  3. Prove that the asylum application was filed within a reasonable time after the changed circumstances.

Examples of changed circumstances:

  • Changes in conditions in the applicant’s home country (for example, political regime change, a change of government, significant worsening of human rights violations towards applicant’s nationality, race, religion, political party, etc.)
  • Changes in applicant’s personal circumstances
  • An applicant who was previously included in the spouse’s or parent’s application divorces the spouse or turns 21.

Besides identifying and proving existence of changed circumstances, an asylum applicant must show that the changes materially affected the applicant’s eligibility for asylum.

The asylum seeker must also demonstrate that an asylum application was filed within a reasonable time after the changed circumstances. 

For example, filing Form I-589 six months after the changed circumstances might be considered unreasonable. 

You must file an asylum application as soon as possible after you become aware of the changed circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances exception

The second exception includes extraordinary circumstances that directly relate to the asylum applicant’s late filing.

The applicant must take the following steps to demonstrate that the extraordinary circumstances exception applies to their case:

  1. Show the existence of extraordinary circumstances. Such changed circumstances must occur during the one-year filing period;
  2. Show that the extraordinary circumstances were directly related to the late filing; and
  3. Prove that the asylum application was filed within reasonable time after the extraordinary circumstances took place.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances:

  • Serious illness;
  • Mental disability;
  • Physical disability;
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel;
  • Maintenance of lawful nonimmigrant status (for example, staying in the US in lawful F-1 student status);
  • Form I-589 was rejected by USCIS and applicant refiled the application within reasonable time;
  • Death of a close family member;
  • Serious illness of a close family member.

Filing a late asylum application within reasonable time

To meet the changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances exceptions, an asylum applicant must demonstrate that the asylum application was filed within a reasonable period of time.

Whether the application was filed within reasonable time is decided on a case-by-case basis and the following factors can be considered:

  • Applicant’s level of education
  • Effects of mental and physical illness
  • When the applicant became aware of the changed/extraordinary circumstance

For example, waiting for 6-12 months after the applicant became aware of the changed/extraordinary circumstances is considered unreasonable.

You must file Form I-589 as soon as possible after you have become aware of the changed circumstances in your home country or extraordinary circumstances that took place in your life.

What happens if I fail to timely file an asylum application?

Failure to timely file an asylum application within this one-year period may have serious consequences for the applicant. 

Here are some important rules to consider:

  • Automatic Bar to Asylum: If an individual fails to file an asylum application within one year of their arrival in the U.S., they may be barred from applying for asylum. This means that the asylum application is likely to be denied solely based on the failure to meet the filing deadline.
  • Exceptions to the Deadline: There are limited exceptions to the one-year filing deadline that we have discussed above.
  • Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture (CAT): Even if an individual is barred from applying for asylum due to the one-year deadline, they may still be eligible for other forms of relief, such as withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). These forms of relief have different eligibility criteria and standards.
  • Consultation with an Immigration Attorney: If you find yourself facing challenges related to the one-year filing deadline or other aspects of the asylum process, it is highly advisable to consult with an immigration attorney. Attorney can assess your specific situation, advise you on available options, and help you navigate the complexities of the immigration system.
  • Risk of Deportation: Failing to timely file an asylum application might result in your removal from the U.S.(deportation). 

Related Links:

Asylum (Requirements, How to Apply)

Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal