Asylum claim denied when I had student visa: Can I reapply?

If you are not in removal proceedings or have not been denied asylum by an immigration judge, you can apply for asylum with USCIS a second time.

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Question

I am from Egypt, and came to the United States on a student visa. I applied for asylum with USCIS while my F-1 visa was still valid, and my claim was denied. Three months ago, I was baptized Catholic, and am now afraid to return to my country. Can I apply for asylum a second time?

Answer

As long as you are not in immigration court proceedings nor have received a denial of your asylum case by an immigration judge, you can apply for asylum with USCIS again.

Since you were in valid student status when the asylum officer denied your claim, you returned to valid F-1 status after your asylum denial. You should be able to file another claim with USCIS whether you still have a valid visa or whether you are now undocumented.

Unlike the first time you filed your asylum claim, in which you mailed your application to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service center, this time, you must file your I-589 application directly with the asylum office that has jurisdiction over your residence. Use the Asylum Office Locator to find out which Asylum Office has jurisdiction over where you reside.

You will receive a new interview notice and be called in for a new interview with an asylum officer. It is important to review your original asylum application before your new interview, because the officer will have all of your immigration files in front of him or her. The officer is allowed to use the first interview notes and the contents of your first file when making a decision on your second application.

Like the first time you applied for asylum, the officer will ask you questions about asylum bars, including the one-year filing deadline. You will likely have to explain why you are applying for asylum again. Also be prepared to explain why and how your circumstances have changed so that your case falls into an exception to the one-year filing deadline. You may have to detail your conversion before you talk about why you are afraid to go home.

It is helpful to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before deciding whether to apply for asylum again. If you are no longer in lawful status and you are not granted asylum, you will be referred to immigration court for removal proceedings. On the other hand, if your circumstances have substantially changed and you now have a good chance to win asylum, you might benefit from a second application.

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