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What is the One-Year Bar for Asylum?

What is the One-Year Bar for Asylum?

Before the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, an immigrant could apply for asylum at any time. However, after 1998, all those who sought asylum were restricted to apply within one year of their last arrival in the United States. This applies for those arriving both illegally and with a non-immigration visas such as those for tourism. This is also referred to as the one-year filing requirement for asylum.

This means that if you last arrived in the United States on January 1st, 2017, you have until January 1st, 2018 to file for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There is one small exception that if that day lands on a Saturday or Sunday, you have then until the following Monday for the application to be received (not simply mailed). As many immigrants do not know of this one year bar for filing asylum, many of them miss out because of it. However, there are certain exceptions that can be made. These exceptions fall under two categories - change circumstances and extraordinary circumstances. By discovering if these exceptions apply to your case, asylum may still be granted.

Changed circumstance exceptions include:

  • Change in circumstances in the country of nationality such as war or genocide
  • Threats wielded against any family that is still living abroad
  • Changes in personal circumstances like political activism
  • Changes in home countries government that proves hostile to their job, most frequently common with journalists
  • Changes in religion that make them a target in their home country

Extraordinary circumstances include:

  • Any serious illness or disability (physical or mental) that prevented filing.
  • The death of their legal representative or immediate family member
  • A legal disability such as being under the age of adulthood
  • Claims of ineffective assistance against your attorney

If any of the above happened during your asylum filing claim period that prevented you from filing it in a timely manner, you must also prove you took steps to file within a reasonable amount of time. "Reasonable" amount of time depends on the circumstances. If you have any issues relating to the one year asylum rule, contact an experienced asylum lawyer. Also, read our Asylum FAQ.