Repeal the One-Year Asylum Deadline

This image cannot be loadedOne in five refugees seeking protection in the United States is denied asylum because they do not apply within one year of their arrival and miss the 12-month deadline imposed by Congress..

Enacted in 1996, the one-year filing deadline requires asylum seekers to establish by “clear and convincing” evidence that their asylum applications were filed within one year of their arrival in the United States, or demonstrate that their applications were delayed due to changed or extraordinary circumstances. Asylum seekers who cannot meet these requirements, even if they are refugees with well-founded fears of persecution, are barred from asylum protection and face deportation to the countries from which they fled.

Bona fide asylum seekers frequently miss the one-year deadline because they do not have access to legal information or resources they need to submit their applications less than a year after they flee to the United States. Many spend their first months or years in the United States consumed with their survival and that of their loved ones. Some do not speak English and encounter language barriers to understanding complex immigration laws. Many people, particularly those who fled countries where they were targeted for persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, do not realize that asylum protection is available for people in their situations until they have lived in the United States for many years.

Only legislative repeal of the one-year deadline will ensure that refugees are not denied protection based on a technicality. NIJC works to convince members of Congress to end the one-year deadline bar, and urges the U.S. Attorney General to take interim steps that would expand exceptions to the deadline and require immigration judges to consider more circumstances that justify delayed filings.

 

Read the Report

The 2010 report The One-Year Asylum Deadline and the BIA: No Protection, No Process, a collaboration among NIJC’s LGBT Immigrant Rights Initiative (formerly National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities), Human Rights First, and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights, is the first to examine how the asylum deadline is handled by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the highest level of administrative appeal available to asylum seekers. This study found that in 46 percent of 662 BIA filing deadline denials, the BIA did not provide any reasoning other than that the asylum seekers submitted their applications after the one-year deadline.