As an asylum seeker, you are expected to apply for asylum within one year after your last entry into the United States. This is known as the asylum one year deadline.

For example, if you entered the United States on January 2, 2020, left on February 2, 2020, and returned to the United States on April 1, 2020, then the one-year period would begin on April 1, 2020.

In addition, if you are also in the United States on a valid visa status, such as a tourist or a student visa, you are also required to apply within one year from when your valid visa expires.

However, if you miss the deadline, you may be eligible to apply under two exceptions,  the “extraordinary circumstances” and the “changed circumstances” exceptions. These two exceptions require you to submit additional evidence along with your asylum application within a reasonable timeframe. In this article, we will review what constitutes both exceptions and define “reasonable time”. 

Asylum One Yead Deadline and The Changed Circumstances Exception

The asylum one year deadline includes some exceptions. Changed circumstances exceptions can be changes in your home country (country of former residency) or changes in your life. You must prove that you were affected and could not file your application within the one-year deadline. 

Changed circumstances can include: 

  • Changes or implementation of laws or new laws in your home country (or country of residency) and you fear persecution if you return. 
  • You’ve been vocal and engaged in politics or religion and that may place you at risk and you fear persecution if you return to your home country.  
  • You have changed your sexual orientation preference, which may be illegal in your country, and you are at risk of being persecuted and sent to jail by the government there.
  • The law in the United States has changed and you are now eligible for asylum when you were not eligible before. 
  • The relationship with the primary asylum applicant (such as a spouse or parent) has ended either by divorce, death, etc. Therefore, you need to apply on your own. 

You will be required to include documents demonstrating that there have been changed circumstances either in the conditions and your home country or in your life. Your application should also be filed within a reasonable period following the change in your circumstances.

If you plan to include articles from web pages or other online sources, ensure that you state why you are submitting them along with your asylum application. Verify that the website is credible and the paper copy of the articles includes the correct URL. Complete all forms as well as your evidence in a clear and concise manner. If they are in another language, they will need to be translated into English. 

Additionally, if you are submitting an affidavit from family, friends, or others, including their full legal name and contact information. 

Consult an immigration attorney if you have questions about the asylum one year deadline, they will be able to ensure your application is prepared and provide the best resources for your case. 

Extraordinary Circumstances Exception

The “extraordinary circumstance” is also another exception that you may be eligible for.   These circumstances may include serious illnesses and mental or physical disability which may have limited you from applying for asylum within the one-year period.

Other extraordinary circumstances can include: 

  • The death or serious illness of a close family member 
  • You experienced serious abuse or were a victim of a crime 
  • The attorney who served as your representative turned out to be a fraud and a complaint was filed against them and now you are starting your application process over. 
  • Personal factors such as family opposition, extreme isolation, or extreme language and cultural barrier.  
  • You filed an original asylum application, and it was rejected and you refiled it more than one year later. 

Also, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdowns and restrictions may also have been a reason why you were unable to file your application within the asylum one year deadline.

To build a convincing case, have proper documentation demonstrating your extraordinary circumstances. Documents may be but are not limited to 

  • Your personal testimony
  • Documents such as passport stamps, boarding passes, and receipts, etc.
  • Witness statements
  • Additional evidentiary documentation such as police reports, death and/or marriage certificates, physician’s note, etc.   

If you plan on submitting medical or other legal documents, ensure they are official documents with letterheads signed and dated by the respondent. 

Note: if you are under the age of 18, you may be able to apply for asylum after the one- year deadline. Read more about Minor Children Applying for Asylum by Themselves at the USCIS website.  

Filing Within a "Reasonable Time" : the Asylum One Year Deadline

You need to file your asylum application within a reasonable period after the extraordinary or changed circumstances have changed and after the one-year waiting period has ended. USCIS does not establish a concrete timeframe for “reasonable time”, but it’s best to file as soon as possible. 

For best practices, two to four months is generally a reasonable amount of time, and more than nine months may not be a reasonable amount of time. However, an asylum officer will determine it when considering your case. An asylum officer is likely to give you, the applicant, favorable judgment as to when a reasonable amount of time is.

Also keep in mind, if your circumstances or situation occurred after the one-year filing period and you consider it to be “extraordinary circumstances” such as an injury, it may not be considered when you file because it took place outside the one year rule. 

If you do not qualify for asylum because you have passed the deadline and have no extraordinary or changed circumstances, there are other programs you may be eligible for if you fear returning to your home country. For more information visit the USCIS website

Contact shoreline immigration for more questions or learn more about Asylum on our blog. 

Asylum One Year Deadline FAQs 

Can You Apply for Asylum after One Year?

Yes, however, you must prove that you either had a change or extraordinary circumstances that delayed your filing application. 

How long do I have to apply for asylum?

You have one (1) year to apply for asylum from the last day of entry into the United States. File Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. 

How do I file for asylum after the one year period?

File Form I-589 and include the evidentiary documentation demonstrating your changed or extraordinary circumstances. Be sure to have all documents translated and in completion.