The one-year deadline for filing asylum applications is a technical requirement that has led to the denial, rejection, or delay of thousands of requests for asylum protection in the United States and created unnecessary inefficiencies in the asylum adjudication process.
In March recommendations for reform of the asylum and refugee systems, Human Rights First addressed the impact of the filing deadline on refugees with well-founded fears of persecution and recommended that the filing deadline be eliminated. We made the same recommendation in a blueprint to the incoming Obama administration in December 2008. Human Rights First has also recommended elimination of the filing deadline in a submission to the UN Human Rights Council and to the U.S. government in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, which will review U.S. compliance with international human rights standards in November 2010.
Additional support for the elimination of the filing deadline:
- 87 faith-based, human rights, legal services, and refugee assistance organizations, including Human Rights First, and 81 individuals sent a letter to House members in support of H.R. 4800, the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act, which would eliminate the filing deadline (4/20/10)
- 18 national and 30 local refugee and migrant advocacy groups, including Human Rights First, sent a submission to the UN Human Rights Council that included the recommendation that the filing deadline be eliminated to bring the United States into compliance with international human rights standards (April 2010)
- 10 key national NGOs, including Human Rights First, plus the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with recommendations for reform of the asylum system, including the elimination of the filing deadline through legislation, and in the interim broad interpretations/applications of exceptions to the deadline. (7/8/09)
New Report: Study of BIA Decisions Reveals Thousands of Refugees Denied Asylum
A new joint report from Human Rights First, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigration Justice Center’s National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities, and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights adds to the growing body of evidence that the arbitrary one-year asylum filing deadline leads to bona fide refugees being denied asylum in the United States. This report is the first to examine how the asylum deadline is handled by the BIA, the highest level of administrative appeal available to asylum seekers. The study analyzed 3,472 BIA asylum cases decided in January from 2005 to 2008.
New Report: Filing Deadline Denies Asylum to Refugees, Wastes Government Resources
A new Human Rights First report examines how a technical asylum filing deadline in U.S. law has barred thousands of refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from receiving asylum in the United States. The report details real case examples of its harmful effect and shows how it has caused increased costs and delays in the asylum system.
House Legislation Would Eliminate Filing Deadline
On April 20, 2010, Human Rights First, along with 86 other faith-based, human rights, legal services and refugee assistance organizations and 81 individual asylum law practitioners, pro bono attorneys, law professors and other experts, sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to support H.R. 4800, the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act, eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum applications.
Read the letter (4/20/10)
Read HRF’s press release and our recommendations.
Read the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act.
Human Rights First and Other NGOs Write Napolitano, Holder, Recommend Elimination of Filing Deadline
On July 8, 2009, Human Rights First and other key national NGOs, plus the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, made recommendations for reform of the asylum system in separate letters to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder. The recommendations included an elimination of the filing deadline through legislation, and interim support for broad interpretations/applications of exceptions to the deadline.
New Administration Should Support Legislation to Eliminate Filing Deadline
In December 2008, Human Rights First released a blueprint “How to Repair the U.S. Asylum System” that includes reform recommendations to the incoming Obama administration. Key among the recommendations is the protection of bona fide refugees from the arbitrary barrier to asylum imposed by the one-year filing deadline.
Read the blueprint.
Karen Musalo & Marcelle Rice, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies: The Implementation of the One-Year Bar to Asylum, 31 Hastings Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 693 (2008).
Victoria Neilson & Aaron Morris, The Gay Bar: The Effect of the One-Year Filing Deadline on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and HIV-Positive Foreign Nationals Seeking Asylum or Withholding of Removal, 8 N.Y. City L. Rev. 233 (2005).
Leena Khandwala, Karen Musalo, Stephen Knight & Maria Anna K. Hreshchyshyn, The One-Year Bar: Denying Protection to Bona Fide Refugees, Contrary to Congressional Intent and Violative of International Law, 05-08 Immigr. Briefings 1 (Aug. 2005).
Peggy Gleason, The One-Year Filing Deadline for Asylum, 8 Bender’s Immigr. Bull. 185 (Feb. 1, 2003).
Michele R. Pistone & Philip G. Schrag, The New Asylum Rule: Improved But Still Unfair, 16 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 1 (2001).
Philip G. Schrag & Michele R. Pistone, The New Asylum Rule: Not Yet a Model of Fair Procedure, 11 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 267 (1997).
Michele R. Pistone & Philip G. Schrag, The 1996 Immigration Act: Asylum and Expedited Removal – What the INS Should Do, 73 No. 43 Interpreter Releases 1565 (Nov. 11, 1996).