Generally speaking, you need to file an application for asylum within one year of arrival in the United States. Are there any options if you don’t meet the one year deadline?
Asylum One Year Deadline – Limited Exceptions
There are two limited exceptions to the one year deadline for filing an asylum application:
(1) Changed circumstances which materially affect an applicant’s eligibility for asylum. Changed circumstances include changes in the country conditions of the applicant’s home country and changes in United States law.
(2) Extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing an application within the one year filing deadline. Extraordinary circumstances must generally be beyond the applicant’s control.
These exceptions require that the circumstance be directly related to the failure to timely file the application and the application must have been filed within a reasonable period under the circumstances. Determining whether you qualify for one of these exceptions involves analyzing a very complicated area of immigration law. You should never assume that you qualify for one of these exceptions and should always review your case with a qualified immigration lawyer who is familiar with asylum law.
But what if you don’t file an application within the one year deadline and you don’t meet the requirements for one of the exceptions to the one year deadline? You may still be eligible for other forms of relief such as withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture.
Withholding of Removal. Withholding of removal requires that an applicant demonstrate that he is “more likely than not” to suffer persecution. This is different than the standard required to be granted asylum. For asylum, you only need to show a “reasonable possibility” of persecution. There are other differences between asylum and withholding of removal. For example, relief under withholding of removal is mandatory while asylum relief is discretionary. In addition, unlike asylum, a grant of withholding of removal does not result in eligibility for permanent residence or the ability to confer derivative status on a spouse or child.
Convention Against Torture. Relief under the Convention Against Torture is available to a person who can show “it is more likely than not that he or she would be tortured if removed to the proposed country of removal”. Of note is that a person may be eligible for relief under the Convention Against Torture even if the person is barred from other forms of relief.
All of these options involve extremely complex issues of immigration law. Anyone who is considering seeking any of these forms of relief is strongly advised to discuss their situation with a qualified immigration lawyer to identify the best course of action for their particular situation.