Marko Vrljicak, a citizen of Serbia, applied for asylum in the U.S. and was denied due to untimely filing. Vrljicak requested asylum on the ground that he would be persecuted in Serbia upon his return, due to his sexual orientation. The immigration judge initially denied his request because he was ineligible for seeking asylum since he did not do so within a year of entering the U.S. Vrljicak entered the U.S. under a work visa that expired on September 30, 2009. Vrljicak did not leave the country nor did he apply for asylum until July 14, 2010, over nine months after his work visa expired.
After the immigration judge denied the asylum claim, Mr. Vrljicak appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and eventually to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Vrljicak argued that the regulation for filing within a “timely period” was vague and he had “extraordinary circumstances.” Because there was no specific amount of time listed, Vrljicak argued that nine months could be considered “reasonable” under the statute. The Seventh Circuit ruled it was not reasonable to wait nine months prior to filing for asylum. Also there is no set definition for the number of days that constitute as reasonable; one might infer that based on existing provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act the maximum number of days is 180. Furthermore, his argument for the word reasonable being vague is invalid as “protean words such as “reasonable” are ubiquitous in law.”
The Court also concluded that the provision for timely filing for asylum ( 8 C.F.R. 1208.4 (a) (5) (IV)) is not unconstitutionally vague. It is important to keep in mind when applying for asylum, it must be done so within a year of entering the country. While there are exceptions including “extraordinary circumstances”, most of the time these are very limited.
Our office handles asylum cases on a regular basis. A large percentage of our clients are from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. Our legal assistant, Adela Zepcan, speaks Bosnian and does a great job translating for us.
If you have questions about filing for asylum or the current immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200.