Can I apply for asylum late if my personal circumstances changed after coming to the U.S.?

A U.S. marriage and conversion may provide sufficient evidence of changed circumstances to allow a late application for asylum.

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Question

I am an Egyptian citizen and entered the United States with a tourist visa five years ago. I began attending church and studying Christianity last year when my Christian boyfriend proposed marriage. I was baptized soon after my marriage. Now that I am a convert I am afraid of persecution if I return to Egypt. Can I apply for asylum even though I entered the U.S. more than a year ago?

Answer

Your changed circumstance should fall into an exception to the one-year filing deadline rule such that you should be able to apply for asylum.

Converting from Islam to Christianity is a major change in your life and one that you believe will endanger you if you return to Egypt. You must demonstrate to the asylum officer that your changed personal circumstance is the reason you are now applying for asylum.

It is important to file your asylum claim as soon as possible after your changed circumstance. You will have to demonstrate that you filed a claim within a reasonable amount of time after the change. Although there is no specific amount of time that constitutes a “reasonable amount of time” the government generally finds that filing an asylum claim more than six months after a changed circumstance is NOT reasonable. In any event, you will have to explain why you filed your asylum claim when you did.

Unless you succeed in showing the government that you are entitled to an exception to the one-year filing deadline rule, the merits of your claim will not be evaluated. Speak to an experienced immigration attorney for help in developing this part of your asylum claim.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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