Typically, when filing for Asylum in the USA you need to file within one year of when you arrived in the country. If you arrived in the USA with a non -immigrant visa such as a student visa, the US government counts the beginning of the one year from the day your visa expired. This could mean that you were in the USA studying with a valid visa for a few years before your visa expired. The one-year countdown doesn't begin until your visa actually expires though.
If you do not file for asylum within the 1-year window, do not panic, there are things you can do to still apply for asylum. It is preferred that you do file within the 1-year window.
The first way you can apply for asylum after the one-year window is to show that you have experienced Extraordinary Circumstances. The US government will determine if what you experienced was or was not an Extraordinary Circumstance, however there are some examples of what can be classified as an Extraordinary Circumstance. For example, if you fell seriously ill and were unable to apply for asylum; this may be considered an Extraordinary Circumstance. The illness you suffered does not necessarily have to be a physical one, you could have experienced a mental illness that affected you in such a way that you were unable to file for asylum.
Another example is if someone in your immediate family died near the end of the one-year window. The US government will ask to see evidence that you did indeed experience these Extraordinary Circumstances so have your documents ready.
If the one-year window came and went, you can still avoid from being deported. In order to do so you have to apply for Withholding of Removal. This does not guarantee that you will be granted residency, but you will be allowed to remain in the United States legally until your hearing with the Immigration judge.
Finally, you may apply for asylum after the one-year mark if conditions in your home country changed for the worse. This could be because a political party came into power and is now persecuting specific people belonging to a specific group (religion, race, political affiliation, etc.) and you belong to the persecuted group. This makes it no longer safe for you to return to your home country. You will have to prove that the changes in your home country have made it unsafe for you to return there. The people committing the persecution could be the government, police or even an armed group with extensive power an influence in the area.
This is also a helpful way for a person who is facing deportation to have his or her case reopened. If conditions changed for the worse, and it affects the person who has an outstanding deportation order, that person can apply for asylum and motion to have his or her case reopened. Again, the applicant will have to show how the change of conditions in his or her home country will cause the person to have a fear of being persecuted.
Whatever reasons you have for not being able to file within the one-year window, it is critical that you file as soon as you are able to. Further delays in applying for asylum will reflect poorly when you do file.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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