EOIR sealU.S. Department of Justice

Executive Office for Immigration Review

Office of the Director

5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2400

Falls Church, Virginia 22041

NOTICE Contact: Office of Public Affairs (703) 305-0289 Fax: (703) 305-0443

March 13, 1998

One-year Time Limit for Asylum Applications Goes Into Effect April 1

As of April 1, 1997, immigration law requires asylum seekers to submit their asylum applications within one year of the date of their arrival in the United States. The law was amended by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which allowed asylum seekers already in the United States to file their asylum applications within one year of the April 1, 1997, effective date of the amendments. As the end of that time period approaches, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) anticipate receiving many applications from asylum seekers eager to file before the deadline.

The Department of Justice has determined that the IIRIRA amendments require asylum seekers who arrived in the United States on or before April 1, 1997, to file their asylum applications on or before April 1, 1998. The deadline to file an asylum application for anyone who arrived in the United States after April 1, 1997, is one year after the date of arrival. An asylum application filed after the one-year time limit will not be adjudicated unless the applicant can establish changed circumstances that affected the applicant's asylum eligibility, or extraordinary circumstances that prevented the applicant's timely filing.

The one-year time limit applies to all asylum applications, including those filed by aliens in Immigration Court proceedings. Aliens who wish to apply for asylum while in proceedings must file their completed asylum applications during a hearing before an Immigration Judge. The time limit does not apply, however, to applications for withholding of removal to a country where the applicant's life or freedom would be threatened. The INS Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal is used to apply for both types of relief.


Special Procedures for Filing Asylum Applications in Immigration Court

In order to accommodate aliens who are in proceedings and who wish to file asylum applications before the deadline, the Immigration Courts having jurisdiction over their cases will allow them to request special hearings for the purpose of filing a timely asylum application. The aliens must request the hearing in writing at the Immigration Court before noon on the date they seek to file their applications. Additional instructions will be provided at the Immigration Courts.

On the final day, April 1, 1998, every alien who requests a Special Master Calendar Hearing prior to 2:00 P.M. shall be given the opportunity to file their asylum application with the Immigration Judge on duty.

Forms and Fingerprints

The asylum applications must be complete when filed but are not required to have fingerprints attached if the applicant is unable to obtain fingerprints before the filing deadline. EOIR and INS have adopted an interim policy of accepting asylum applications without fingerprints. The applicant will then be notified when and where to report to get fingerprinted.

Also beginning April 1, 1998, asylum applicants must use the April 1, 1997, version of the INS Form I-589. A newer version of the form, soon to be released, may also be used. The newer version of the form is the only form that will be accepted after July 1, 1998.

Further information or instructions for asylum applicants in Immigration Court proceedings will be available from the courts having jurisdiction over their cases. In addition, information is available through the toll-free phone number--1-800-898-7180--and this notice will be posted on the EOIR Web site at <www.usdoj.gov/eoir>.