Bars to Asylum

In addition to meeting all of the eligibility requirements for asylum, an applicant also must ensure that they are not subject to a bar to asylum. Below is an exhaustive list of asylum bars.

1. Safe Third Country: If the applicant can be sent to a safe third country pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, he or she is ineligible to apply for asylum unless the Attorney General finds that it is in the public interest for the applicant to remain in the United States. Presently only one of these agreements exists and it is between the United States and Canada.

2. One-Year Deadline: Applicant must file for asylum within one year of their date of last arrival in the United States. There is an exception to this, however:

a. Changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing; and

b. You filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.

3. Previous Denial: If an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals previously denied an asylum application, the applicant is ineligible unless they can demonstrate “the existence of changed circumstances which materially affect the applicant’s eligibility for asylum.”

4. Firm Resettlement: An applicant is ineligible for asylum if they firmly resettled in another country prior to arriving in the United States. To be firmly resettled in another country, the applicant must have received an offer of permanent residency, citizenship, or other permanent status in that country. An applicant is not firmly resettled if he or she entered that country as a necessary consequence of flight from persecution, remained in that country only so long as necessary to arrange onward travel, and did not establish significant ties to that country. An applicant also is not firmly resettled if he or she can establish that the conditions of his or her residence in that country were so substantially and consciously restricted by the authority of the country that he or she was not in fact resettled.

5. Terrorism: This may include, among other activities, engagement in terrorist activity (including providing “material support” to a terrorist organization, even de minimis support and even support provided under duress), connection to a terrorist organization via membership, association, otherwise, receiving training from or on behalf of a terrorist organization, or even being the spouse or child of someone who is inadmissible under INA §212(a)(3)(B).

6. Persecutor of Others: An applicant is ineligible for asylum if they ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

7. Particularly Serious Crime: An applicant is ineligible for asylum if they were convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime and therefore constitute a danger to the community of the United States. Aggravated felonies constitute particularly serious crimes for purposes of asylum and are an automatic bar to asylum. Other crimes are considered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they are particularly serious crimes barring asylum.

8. Serious Nonpolitical Crime: An applicant is ineligible for asylum if there are serious reasons for considering that they have committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside of the United States prior to their arrival. Unlike particularly serious crimes, there is no requirement that the applicant was actually convicted of the serious nonpolitical crime. Even if the applicant did not personally carry out the act of harm, involvement in the serious nonpolitical crime may be sufficient. If the political aspects of the offense outweigh its common law character, it may not bar the applicant from asylum, unless it was atrocious in nature.

9. Danger to the Security of the United States: An applicant is ineligible for asylum if “there are reasonable grounds for regarding the [applicant] as a danger to the security of the United States.”


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