On December 11, 2020, a massive new asylum regulation was finalized. This new regulation dramatically changes the U.S. asylum legal system. Fortunately for most – if not all – of NIJC asylum clients with pro bono attorneys, the new regulation only applies to asylum seekers who file for asylum on or after the effective date of the rule, which is January 11, 2021.
Even though the new rule will not apply to asylum clients who have already filed for asylum, it would apply to any derivative asylum clients if they are eligible for asylum independent of their parent or spouse, but do not file their independent application until on or after January 11, 2021. In other words, their derivative status would remain unaffected by the new rule, but their ability to seek protection on their own will be impacted if they don’t file for asylum before January 11, 2021.
Last year, NIJC issued new guidance on our website advising pro bono attorneys to submit independent, skeletal asylum applications for all derivative applicants in order to best preserve their eligibility for relief in light of the various attacks on the asylum system. If you did not previously file an independent, skeletal asylum application for your derivative asylum client, you will now need to do so prior to the effective date of the rule. This means, at the latest, sending applications overnight on Thursday, January 7th or filing in person at the immigration court on Friday, January 8th.
Filing independent, skeletal asylum applications for derivatives applicants before the immigration court is a fairly straight-forward process and is no different than any other immigration court filing. Independent, skeletal asylum applications for derivative applicants before the asylum office must be filed with the newly created Asylum Vetting Center. For more information on this asylum office process, please click here.
While we remain optimistic that the many lawsuits expected in the coming weeks will prevent this new rule from going into effect, we believe it is important to fully protect our asylum clients against this new rule.
If you are representing an NIJC asylum client and have questions about how this guidance applies to your case, please reach out to your NIJC point-of-contact for individualized advice.