Asylum seekers in Georgia and around the country are generally required to submit their application paperwork within one year of their arrival in the United States, but exceptions to the one-year rule are sometimes made. Applications may be submitted after the deadline has passed when an extraordinary situation, such as a serious illness, made it impossible for an asylum seeker to file within the time allowed, and exceptions are also made when an individual’s eligibility for asylum is affected by a change in their circumstances.
Asylum is granted to individuals who would be in danger if they were to return to their home countries because of their race, national origin, religious beliefs or political opinions. A common reason for a changed circumstances exception being granted is a change of government in the asylum seeker’s home country that creates a danger that did not exist previously. These exceptions can also be granted when a change in an individual’s religious or political beliefs would place them in a persecuted class if they returned.
While the one-year rule may not apply in these situations, asylum seekers are still required to submit their applications reasonably quickly. When immigration judges are tasked with deciding whether or not a filing delay was reasonable, they consider the facts of the case. Factors that influence these decisions include the asylum seeker’s educational background, the state of their health and when they became aware of the changed circumstances.
The prospect of dealing with immigration officials can be daunting to those who are already living in fear, and the paperwork involved may seem overwhelming to individuals unfamiliar with federal bureaucracy. Attorneys with immigration law experience may take steps to ensure that asylum seekers submit their applications within a reasonable amount of time when the situation in their home countries or their own circumstances have changed. Attorneys may also advocate on clients’ behalf during immigration hearings.