The Department of Justice issued two final rules on asylum and withholding of removal-related standards and procedures.

  • Final rule on asylum eligibility and procedural modifications. This final rule, effective January 19, 2021, responds to comments received on an interim final rule issued in July 2019 and “makes minor changes to regulations implemented or affected by the [interim final rule] for clarity and correction of typographical errors.”

Among other things, the rule adds a new mandatory bar to eligibility for asylum for those who enter or attempt to enter the United States “across the southern land border after transiting through at least one country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence en route to the United States.” Some exceptions apply. The rule also adds new limits on asylum eligibility for people who are subject to expedited removal.

  • Final rule on procedures for asylum and withholding of removal. This final rule, effective January 15, 2021, responds to comments received in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking issued in September 2020. The final rule adopts the proposed rule “with few changes.” The rule outlines requirements for filing a complete application for relief and the consequences of filing an incomplete application, establishes a 15-day filing deadline for applicants in “asylum-and-withholding-only proceedings” (calculated from the date of the first hearing before an immigration judge (IJ), with “good cause” extensions possible) and clarifies evidentiary standards in deciding such applications. It also adopts changes related to the 180-day asylum adjudication clock.

In a change from the proposed rule, which required the applicant to submit a fee receipt together with the application by the deadline set by the IJ, the final rule allows applicants to meet the filing deadline when they “cannot meet all requirements due to no fault of their own.” As an example, the final rule says an applicant can submit alternative proof of payment if the fee receipt has not yet been received, but in such instance, the fee receipt will be due by the deadline the IJ sets. If the IJ does not set a separate deadline for the fee receipt, the applicant must submit it within 45 days of the date of filing the associated application.

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