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The Seventh Circuit ruled that a personal change in circumstances can support reopening for asylum if it occurs abroad.
 
Roome Joseph was a derivative asylum applicant on her parents' failed asylum application; her family returned to Pakistan after losing the case.  She had Americanized, however, and did not want to return to Pakistan.  She married an American, but her family intends to force her into an arranged marriage with someone she has never met if she returns to Pakistan.  The government argued that a forced marriage is a “personal circumstance” that does not justify reopening her case for asylum.  In a finding that has significance for many persecution claims arising from societal prejudice, the Seventh Circuit rejected that analysis.  Instead, it found that material changes in personal circumstance arising in the native country may support reopening of an asylum case.
 
Ms. Joseph was represented by pro bono attorneys Steven Moeller and Marc Kadish, of Mayer Brown, LLP, and by the National Immigrant Justice Center.
 
Read the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, 579 F.3d 827 (7th Cir. 2009)
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Read the opening brief, government response, and reply brief.
 
Read the National Immigrant Justice Center litigation blog entry and press release on this case.