More Helpful Information on Political Asylum

Is There a Deadline for Asylum Applications?

Generally, an individual must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. In 2018, a federal district court ruled that DHS must notify asylum seekers of this deadline in a class-action lawsuit challenging the government’s failure to provide adequate notice of the one-year deadline and a uniform procedure for filing timely applications.

The one-year deadline for asylum seekers in the affirmative and defensive processes is fraught with obstacles. The time spent in detention or the journey to the United States may have traumatic effects for some individuals who may not even realize there is a deadline. Even those who realize the deadline face systemic barriers, such as lengthy backlogs, which prevent them from filing in a timely manner. Many times, the government denies an asylum application solely because the one-year deadline has passed.

What Happens to Asylum Seekers Arriving at the U.S. Border?

Between 2004 and 2019, virtually all noncitizens who encountered or presented themselves to a U.S. official at a port of entry or near the border were subjected to expedited removal, a process which allows DHS to remove certain individuals rapidly.

The credible fear and reasonable fear screening processes are available to asylum seekers in expedited removal processes to help ensure that the United States does not violate international and domestic law by returning individuals to countries where their lives or liberties may be at risk. It is important to note that while the process described below is how asylum seekers should be processed under law, CBP officers often do not follow it properly. In addition, CBP officers have sometimes subjected asylum seekers to various new policies created by the Trump administration in 2019 and 2020, which are described in greater detail below.