Are there any exceptions to the one year filing deadline for asylum application?
Yes. You can apply for asylum even after one year deadline, if you demonstrate that there are:
- changed circumstances which materially affect your eligibility; or
- extraordinary circumstances causing the delay.
However, when these circumstances exist, you need to file the application within reasonable time given the exception.
“Changed circumstances” means new developments which now give rise to the reasonable possibility of persecution in your home country. It may be something you did while you were in the US, after one year deadline had passed, making you a target of possible persecution in your country, and thus, earning you basis for asylum. Or another example – you are a homosexual from a country which recently passed laws making it a crime.
“Extraordinary circumstances” usually means circumstances which made your asylum application either “impossible” or “unnecessary” within the one year of your presence in the US. An example of impossible is – you had a serious medical condition precluding you from filing your asylum application within one year of your entry into the US. An example of “unnecessary” is having a valid immigration status in the US and therefore not needing asylum to avoid returning to your home country. Thus, you can apply for asylum even after several years of presence in the US as a student on F-1 status or in any other non-immigrant status, such as H-1B, J-1, etc.
It is important to note that, even if you had changed or extraordinary circumstances, you must file for asylum “immediately” after those circumstances arise or stop existing. For example, if you are applying for asylum after one year deadline based on the changed country conditions, you must file the application immediately after those conditions change. Or if you file for asylum after one year deadline because you had a student visa status which you just lost (e.g. because you stopped going to school), then you need to file for asylum as soon as possible after you lose your status. The official term is “reasonable time.” However, the asylum officers interpret it to mean nearly immediately. Typically, a delay of less than 90 days counts as reasonable. But don’t take our word for it. There are multiple cases involving disputes and different interpretations. There is no specific amount of time set as “reasonable”. It dealt with on case-by-case basis.