Important Victory For Asylum Seekers: DHS Ordered to Notify Potential Asylum Seekers of the 1 Year Filing Requirement

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) imposes a requirement that asylum applications must be filed within one year of the asylum seeker’s entry into the United States.  An asylum application filed more than one year after entry can be denied.  The failure to file within one year can be overlooked if there are changed circumstances affecting the applicant’s eligibility for asylum, or where the applicant proves the delay was related to “extraordinary circumstances” such as serious mental or physical illness.  The problem is – how does any asylum seeker know about the 1 year deadline?

Many individuals arrive at the U.S. border after exhausting and dangerous journeys.  They are still suffering from the impact of trauma that forced them to flee their homes, and quite often they experience further trauma on their journey.  Most if not all are frightened and worried about their future in the United States.  After an interview with officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), those individuals who prove they have a credible (believable) fear of persecution may be released from DHS custody to away further immigration court hearings with no notice of the 1 year filing requirement.

After their release, asylum seekers routinely experience technical difficulties filing their applications for asylum due to problems with both the USCIS and Immigration Court system.  And some individuals are completely unaware of the requirement to file for asylum within one year until well after the deadline passed.  In 2016, several immigrant’s rights organizations filed a class action lawsuit in federal court challenging the DHS’ failure to provide notice of the one-year filing deadline.

In a decision dated March 29, 2018 the federal district court found that the DHS’s failure to provide a clear and consistent notice violates the right to apply for asylum.  The Court ordered DHS to create a uniform notice of the one year deadline within 90 days.  The Court further ordered DHS to accept any asylum application from class members who file within one year of the new notice.  Finally, the Court said that DHS has 120 days to establish a procedure that will allow all class members to timely file for asylum.

You can read more about this important decision here.

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