\ fr \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) \ Federal Register Publications (Legacy INS) - 2000 \ FEDERAL REGISTER FINAL REGULATIONS - 2000 \ Asylum Procedures [65 FR 76121] [FR 66-00] \ § 208.3--Form of Application
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§ 208.3--Form of Application
The name of the Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, as it appeared in § 208.3(a) has been corrected to “Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.” Section 208.3(c)(4) has been corrected to reflect that section 274C of the Act provides for criminal as well as civil penalties for knowingly placing false information on an Application.
§ 208.4--Filing the Application
A considerable number of comments were received regarding the 1-year filing deadline contained in section 208(a)(2)(B) of the Act and the provisions for exemption contained in section 208(a)(2)(D) of the Act relating to changed conditions.
Some commenters took issue with the deadline itself. While the Department understands the concerns of those commenters, the 1-year filing deadline is a statutory requirement and therefore cannot be removed by rulemaking.
Some commenters suggested that an asylum officer or immigration judge should question an applicant before an application can be rejected as untimely filed. This suggestion has been adopted for two reasons. First, the decision on a tardy filing issue can best be made only after an asylum officer, in an interview, or immigration judge, in a hearing, has given an applicant the opportunity to present any relevant and useful information bearing on any prohibitions on filing. Second, for applicants who are placed
in removal proceedings, the immigration judge must still determine whether the applicant is eligible for withholding of removal, even if it is found that the alien is ineligible to apply for asylum.
Language in § 208.4(a)(2)(ii) was added for consistency with § 1.1(h), which defines the term “day” for computing the period of time for taking action provided in 8 CFR. When calculating the one-year period when the last day of the period falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period shall run until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. One commenter suggested that the Department consider the filing of an asylum application to be the date the application is ma
iled or otherwise sent to the Service or Immigration Court. This suggestion has been adopted in part. For an application filed with the Service, an application is considered to have been filed on the date it is received by the Service. In a case in which the 1-year filing deadline has not been met, however, if the applicant provides clear and convincing documentary evidence of mailing the application within the 1-year period, the mailing date shall be considered the filing date. For a case before the Immigr
ation Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board), an asylum application is considered to have been filed on the date it is received by the Court or the Board.
In addition, other references to filing an application in paragraph (a) relating to “submission of,” “submitted,” or “applied for” have also been changed to “filed” in order to make language in the section consistent. Language was also added to reflect that the provisions of this section apply to asylum applications decided by an asylum officer, an immigration judge, or the Board.
Many commenters recommended a change in the language of § 208.4(a)(4) and § 208.4(a)(5) that would indicate the list of circumstances is not all-inclusive. That suggestion has been adopted.
The Department agreed with several of the recommended amendments to § 208.4(a)(4), relating to changed circumstances. First, the Department eliminated the requirement that the changed circumstances be “objective.” The modifier “objective” was removed to avoid confusion in cases where, for example, the changed circumstance relates to a subjective choice an applicant has made, such as a religious conversion or adoption of political views. Additionally, the Department eliminated the requirement that the change
d circumstances occur within the United States, because there may be situations in which the changed circumstances, such as religious conversion, took place outside the United States, but not in the applicant’s home country. The Department also specified that cessation of the requisite relationship between a principal applicant and a dependent after the dependent has been included in the principal applicant’s application as a derivative applicant may constitute a changed circumstance. Finally, the Departmen
t clarified that an adjudicator must take into account an applicant’s delayed awareness of a changed circumstance, such as events in the home country, when determining whether a period of delay is reasonable.
Section 208.4(a)(5), relating to extraordinary circumstances, has been revised to reflect the numerous comments regarding the current list of circumstances that may constitute extraordinary circumstances. The Department has added additional circumstances to the non-exhaustive list, as discussed below. Additionally, the Department has changed the word “shall” in the second sentence of paragraph (a)(5) to “may” to better reflect the statutory language in section 208(a)(2)(D) and to reinforce the necessity of
analyzing each case on an individual basis. The Department has also added language to the burden of proof requirement to specify clearly that the applicant bears the burden to demonstrate that the delay was reasonable under the circumstances.
With respect to § 208.4(a)(5), some commenters suggested that extraordinary circumstances not be limited to factors beyond the alien’s control. That suggestion has been partially adopted. While it is hard to imagine a situation that both would be entirely within the alien’s control and would also prevent him or her from filing the application, it is not difficult to imagine qualifying situations in which the alien might be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, or the alien might be able to exerc
ise a limited amount of control. The regulation has been amended to provide that the alien must not have intentionally created the circumstance.
Additionally, the phrase “but for those circumstances he or she would have been able to file the application within the 1-year period” has been modified to ensure consistency with the statutory language to read “those circumstances were directly related to the alien’s failure to file the application within the 1-year period.”
In § 208.4(a)(5)(i), the phrase “of significant duration,” in reference to an experience of serious illness or disability, was removed to allow for a situation in which the timing of an applicant’s serious illness or disability prohibited him or her from filing the asylum application within one year of the individual's arrival in the United States, even though the illness or disability was of short duration.
Several commenters recommended that the list of extraordinary circumstances be expanded to include maintaining valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status, in addition to maintaining Temporary Protected Status. The Department has accepted the recommendation because there are sound policy reasons to permit persons who were in a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status, or were given parole, to apply for asylum within a reasonable time after termination of parole or immigration status. The Department does not wish t
o force a premature application for asylum in cases in which an individual believes circumstances in his country may improve, thus permitting him to return to his country. For example, an individual admitted as a student who expects that the political situation in her country may soon change for the better as a result of recent elections may wish to refrain from applying for asylum until absolutely necessary. The Department would expect a person in that situation to apply for asylum, should conditions not i
mprove, within a very short period of time after the expiration of her status. Failure to apply within a reasonable time after expiration of the status would foreclose the person from meeting the statutory filing requirements. Generally, the Department expects an asylum-seeker to apply as soon as possible after expiration of his or her valid status, and failure to do so will result in rejection of the asylum application. Clearly, waiting six months or longer after expiration or termination of status would n
ot be considered reasonable. Shorter periods of time would be considered on a case-by-case basis, with the decision-maker taking into account the totality of the circumstances.
Others recommended including situations involving the death or serious illness or incapacity of the applicant’s legal representative or of a member of the applicant’s immediate family. The Department agrees that there may be situations in which the serious illness of an applicant’s representative or family member could relate to an applicant’s delay in applying for asylum. Therefore, that suggestion has been adopted. As with all exceptions to the 1-year filing requirement based on extraordinary circumstance
s, the applicant would have to demonstrate that the illness of the representative or family related to the delay in filing and that the applicant applied for asylum within a reasonable amount of time after the illness.
Some commenters suggested broadening the two illustrative lists. The lists have been expanded to include some, but not all, of the suggestions. The Department’s decision to include only some of the circumstances suggested in the comments does not mean that the Department has determined that those that were not included could never excuse tardiness. The fact that an applicant’s circumstances are described in the list of possible changed or extraordinary circumstances does not in itself mandate that a tardy f
iling be excused; nor does the lack of such a description mean that the circumstances cannot be raised during an interview or hearing and result in excuse of the untimely filing. The lists merely provide examples of circumstances that might result in a tardiness being excused. In order for a tardy filing to be excused, an applicant must first credibly show the existence or occurrence of the circumstances (regardless of whether those circumstances are specifically listed in the regulations), and then show (1
) for changed circumstances, that those changes materially affect the alien's eligibility for asylum, or (2) for extraordinary circumstances, that those circumstances directly relate to the alien's failure to file the application within the 1-year deadline. Without the direct connection, the alien is statutorily ineligible to apply for asylum.
The Department notes that the existing provision in this section relating to “ineffective assistance of counsel” raises questions that have arisen under the Act more generally concerning whether, and if so when, errors by counsel may furnish a ground for an alien to obtain relief, such as setting aside a final order or excusing a failure to comply with a statutory deadline. For example, in a case that is currently pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Service is arguing that because there is
no constitutional right to government-furnished counsel in immigration proceedings, there is, under Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722 (1991), no constitutional basis for relief based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Similar issues concerning errors of counsel have been raised in court in other contexts under the Act. The Department accordingly is re-examining the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel provision in the asylum regulations as part of a broader assessment of the role that counsel err
or may play in requests for relief in immigration proceedings. However, because those issues have not yet been raised in the context of the current rulemaking proceedings, this provision is being carried forward unchanged at the present time. The Department will address those issues separately in the future.
Certain commenters appeared to be confused about the amount of additional time an applicant should receive in order to file an application when it has been determined that a changed or extraordinary circumstance is present in a particular case. While most understood that the finding of changed or extraordinary circumstances justifies the tardiness being excused to the extent necessary to allow the alien a reasonable amount of time to submit the application, some believed that the alien would automatically r
eceive one year from the date of the circumstance involved to file a timely application. Although there may be some rare cases in which a delay of one year or more may be justified because of particular circumstances, in most cases such a delay would not be justified. Allowing an automatic one year extension from the date a changed or extraordinary circumstance occurred would clearly exceed the statutory intent that the delay be related to the circumstance. Accordingly, that approach has not been adopted.
Section 208.4(b)(2) has been clarified to reflect that the director of the local asylum office, in addition to the director of the asylum program, can authorize the filing of an application directly with a local asylum office instead of with a Service Center. A provision was also added to this section that allows an application to be filed directly with an asylum office in a case in which an individual who was previously included in a principal applicant’s asylum application as a dependent has lost derivati
ve status and wants to file as a principal applicant.
The title of § 208.4(b)(3) has been changed from “With the immigration judge” to “With the Immigration Court,” and in § 208.4(b)(3)(i), the phrase “jurisdiction over the port, district office, or sector after service and filing of the appropriate charging document” has been changed to “jurisdiction over the underlying proceeding.” The form number of the Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge (I-863) has also been added to § 208.4(b)(3)(iii).
Finally, the second sentence of § 208.4(b)(5) has been amended to reflect that submission of an asylum application to the district director does not automatically trigger the issuance of a Form I-863, Notice of Referral to an Immigration Judge.
§ 208.5--Special Duties Towards Aliens in Custody of the Service
Language was added to reflect that paragraph (a), which relates to aliens in the custody of the Service who request asylum or withholding of removal, or who express a fear of persecution or harm, does not pertain to an alien in custody pending a reasonable fear determination pursuant to § 208.31, just as it does not pertain to an alien pending a credible fear determination. However, a sentence was added to reflect that, even though the Service is not required to provide application forms to aliens pending a
credible fear or reasonable fear determination, the Service may provide the forms upon request. The word “persecution” was deleted after the terms “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” to reflect that a credible fear or reasonable fear determination involves an evaluation of both fear of persecution and fear of torture. Finally, § 208.5(b)(1)(ii) has been amended to allow a district director to extend the 10-day filing period for crewmen when good cause exists.