Challenging Obstacles to Meeting The One Year Filing Deadline for Filing An Asylum Application

Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash. filed June 30, 2016)


Although the immigration statute requires immigrants seeking asylum to file their applications within one year of arriving in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had long failed to notify asylum seekers of this important deadline. Furthermore, DHS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review have not created a mechanism that allows all asylum seekers the opportunity to file their applications in a timely manner.

On June 30, 2016, the American Immigration Council and its partners filed a class action lawsuit challenging these practices on behalf of asylum seekers who enter the United States and are released from immigration custody without notice of the one-year filing deadline. The case was filed by the Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Dobrin & Han, PC, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

The court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification on January 10, 2017, and Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on March 29, 2018. The court found that the failure to provide all class members with notice of the one-year asylum application period violates the APA, the INA and the 5th Amendment Due Process Clause. The court also found that the lack of an adequate mechanism to timely file their asylum applications violates class members’ statutory right to apply for asylum and the APA.

Final Settlement

After DHS appealed the decision, the parties reached a proposed settlement. On August 17, 2020, the District Court for the Western District of Washington preliminarily approved a final settlement agreement. The court conducted a fairness hearing on November 4, 2020, and approved the final settlement agreement the same day.

Under the final settlement agreement, EOIR and USCIS will accept as timely filed any asylum application from a class member that was filed or is filed on or before April 22, 2022, where the class member files the appropriate notice of class membership. In order to benefit from the agreement, the class member must take action before April 22, 2022

  • For detailed information about who qualifies as a class member and how to benefit from this relief depending on the stage of immigration proceedings, please read the Frequently Asked Questions resource prepared by class counsel.
  • Class counsel also prepared sample notices of class membership and other template resources available here.

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