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When can asylum seekers claim “changed circumstances?”

When someone faces persecution or physical danger in their home country, they may choose to move to the United States and seek asylum. Though the nation’s current stance toward immigration is sometimes less than friendly, the U.S. is still known around the world for opening its doors for people from all nations.

When someone arrives in the U.S. seeking asylum, they must file their application within one year. However, circumstances often change; in some cases, these circumstances allow an applicant to delay their paperwork.

Which circumstances qualify?

The federal government has strict definitions for “changed circumstances.” These include:

  • A significant change in your personal circumstances, such as your religion or political affiliation
  • A change in conditions in your home country, or the country where you lived before arriving in the U.S.
  • You were a derivative beneficiary, and the qualifying relationship—for example, with your spouse—has ended

The changed circumstances exception applies only if these changes occurred after April 1, 1997. If the changes in your life meet these qualifications, then you may qualify for the exception that allows you to file your application after more than one year in the U.S.

Using the changed circumstances exception

Any immigrant who wishes to use the changed circumstances exception must still file their paperwork within a reasonable period of time. Because the regulations regarding immigration can be very complex, many people choose to seek outside help to assist with their application.

Navigating the asylum process may seem daunting, but it can help to have extra time—especially when your circumstances have changed dramatically. The waiting will be worth it if your application is granted and you can reside in the U.S. permanently.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber