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Asylum law in the United States has been altered, changed, re-written, litigated, and changed again so many times over the last five years that practically no one knows what is what. Who is allowed to request asylum? What is a legitimate asylum claim under current law? Can I obtain a work permit? How long do I need to wait? I get asked these and many more questions every day from displaced refugees and worried clients.
In 1996 the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act was created which imposed a number of requirements on potential asylum applicants. The most important change was the one-year rule. This rule requires all potential asylum applicants to file their request within one year of entering the U.S. This still is very much a hard rule under immigration law that has not changed since 1996. This rule is often overlooked or disregarded for a number of bad reasons. I have clients often telling me that they heard somewhere that this is no longer the rule or that it does not apply to them. These people often listen to bad information and end up wasting the entire critical first year inside the U.S. and end up destroying their chances of obtaining asylum, work authorization, and ultimately a green card.
Can anything be done to correct this mistake? If an applicant does not file for protection within one year (365 days) of entering the U.S., they will be prevented from filing later unless they fall within some very specific and limited exceptions. What are the exceptions? Federal law provides an incomplete list of ways in which a person can prove that circumstances have changed enough to allow them to get around the 1-year rule. I usually deal with two main groups of clients.
The first group are those individuals who discover that conditions in their country have changed significantly enough that they now have an asylum claim which did not exist when they first entered the U.S. This rule is so valuable since there are so many factors that people have no control over and events can change in a heartbeat in their country that fundamentally changes their situation. If this happens, a person can now be eligible for asylum. Other examples of changes that get around the 1-year rule are changes to U.S. law or to other personal circumstances such as the ending of a spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal applicant in a previous asylum application. People with these circumstances will now be permitted to file for asylum even if it has been years since they first entered the U.S.
The second group of clients who bypass the 1-year rule are those who have experienced extraordinary circumstances that caused a delay in their filing for asylum when they first entered the U.S. Examples of this would be events or factors that directly caused them to unintentionally miss the deadline such as serious illness or disability, the death or serious illness of their legal representative or immediate family member or what is called the ineffective assistance of counsel.
It is important to know that establishing proof that an exception to the asylum one-year filing rule applies to you can be difficult and it is your responsibility to provide evidence of the circumstances at the time of your filing. You must also show that the application was filed within a reasonable amount of time once you discovered the problem preventing a timely filing in the first place.
The delicacy of asylum law requires careful planning and a clear understanding of the law. If you have a potential asylum claim that you think you may be able to file, please contact our office to schedule a consultation so we can help you determine if you qualify and to help you file properly. You can do this by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/