USCIS returned my asylum application, so I’ve missed the one-year deadline — can I still apply?

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Question:

I entered the U.S. illegally, and am originally from El Salvador. I sent a Form I-589 application for asylum to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about 11 months after my arrival here. But USCIS sent it back to me. They said I had forgotten to check some boxes. So I checked the right boxes and sent it back again, but by that time, over a year had passed since my U.S. entry date. I haven’t heard anything back from USCIS . Do you think they will reject my application because I missed the one-year application deadline?

Answer:

USCIS makes an exception to the one-year deadline for applicants who got their original I-589 application submitted on time but to whom it was then returned for corrections. So, as long as you got your I-589 re-filed within a reasonable period – which it sounds like you probably did, although you didn’t specify how many days or weeks went by – USCIS should accept it for further processing.

The term “reasonable” is not defined, and may depend on the facts of individual applicants’ lives. Of course, if several months went by with no reason, you may have trouble with this.

It sounds like you are also concerned at the time USCIS is taking to process your I-589. Unfortunately, USCIS does not publish processing times for asylum applications online. Your best bet is to contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center.

For more information about U.S. asylum law and application procedures, see the "Asylum & Refugee Status" section of Nolo's website.

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