Nunc Pro Tunc is Latin for “now for then” and legalese for “let’s start over.” The spouse or child of a person granted asylum (a “principal asylee”) is referred to as a “derivative asylee.”
Marriages may end, asylees can pass away, and children grow up, but sometimes, the situation in the home country remains unchanged. At that point, imputed asylum ends.
Nunc pro tunc asylum can provide critical relief for derivative asylees who lose their eligibility to adjust to permanent residence due to circumstances outside their control. While nunc pro tunc asylum can restore a path to permanent resident status, strict eligibility rules apply.
What Exactly is Nunc Pro Tunc Asylum?
Put simply, nunc pro tunc allows the spouse and children of an asylee who are no longer eligible to adjust status (apply for a green card) as a derivative asylee to apply for and be granted asylum as a principal asylee; the new grant of asylum is backdated to the original grant date of the principal asylee. With nunc pro tunc asylum, USCIS goes back to the date your spouse or parent originally got asylum and approves you independently as a principal asylee so that you are then eligible to apply for a green card.
Nunc pro tunc asylum gives asylum seekers a second chance to obtain legal status and benefits like work permits, social services, and a path to a green card. But strict eligibility criteria apply.
Who Needs to File Nunc Pro Tunc Asylum?
Sometimes, derivative asylees are no longer eligible for adjustment of status due to a change of circumstances, and, therefore, they are no longer eligible to apply for adjustment of status (a green card). These include:
- Divorced Spouse: If a derivative asylee gets divorced from the principal asylee before they have been approved for a green card, they are no longer eligible to adjust their status as a derivative asylee.
- Married Child: If a derivative asylee child gets married before they apply for or are approved for a green card, they are no longer considered a “child” and are no longer eligible to adjust their status as a derivative asylee (however, a derivative asylee child who married and divorced before filing for a green card may still be eligible to adjust status as a derivative asylee.
- Principal Asylee Has Naturalized: Once an asylee becomes a U.S. citizen, they are no longer considered a refugee, so their spouse and children are no longer considered the “spouse” or “child” of a refugee. The spouse and children are no longer eligible to adjust their status as derivative asylees.
- Principal Asylee Has Their Status Terminated: If the principal asylee loses their asylum status (and, therefore, no longer meets the definition of a refugee, their spouse and children are no longer eligible to adjust their status as derivative asylees.
Keep in mind that even if you are not eligible to adjust to permanent residence as a derivative asylee, you still remain a derivative asylee with all the rights and benefits associated with that status – you are able to work in the U.S., and you can apply for a refugee travel document. You just cannot get a green card as a derivative asylee.
The common thread is using nunc pro tunc to put you in the position of a principal asylee so that you can file for permanent residence. Experienced immigration attorneys can advise if your situation warrants a nunc pro tunc asylum application.
How to File for Nunc Pro Tunc Asylum with USCIS
The first step in filing for nunc pro tunc asylum is assembling the necessary documentation. This includes:
- Gathering evidence to support your need for nunc pro tunc asylum, such as documentation of your derivative status. Drafting a cover letter to explain your reasoning and providing a detailed timeline of relevant events. Completing the appropriate USCIS form for the benefit you are seeking).
- Compiling supporting documents like identity materials, affidavits, and proof of past approvals.
- Submitting your nunc pro tunc package to the USCIS service center or office.
Given the complexity of nunc pro tunc cases, having an experienced immigration attorney assist you is highly recommended. They can ensure your application is compelling, complete, and accurate.
Current average processing times range from 12 months to years, and all cases require an in-person interview at a local asylum office.
If approved, USCIS will issue a new approval notice granting you nunc pro tunc asylum as of the date your principal asylee originally received it. This confers all the same benefits that you had before, with the added bonus of allowing you to now seek adjustment of status to permanent resident.
Nunc Pro Tunc Asylum is Not a Guarantee
It’s important to understand that submitting a nunc pro tunc asylum request does not automatically mean it will be approved. USCIS evaluates each case individually, so working with an experienced attorney provides the best opportunity to understand eligibility criteria and present a compelling case.
Why Work with a Qualified Asylum Lawyer?
Pursuing nunc pro tunc asylum is a complex process with high stakes. Having an expert guide you through every step can make all the difference.
Our asylum lawyers can:
- Review your immigration history and confirm eligibility
- Gather documents and supporting evidence
- Craft a compelling and complete application
- Avoid mistakes or missing forms that lead to denials
- Increase your odds of approval
- Represent you if an interview with USCIS
At the Law Office of Lina Baroudi, our attorneys have years of experience specifically helping asylum seekers with nunc pro tunc relief. If you’ve lost your asylum status and want to get back on track, we’re here to help.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our team will review your situation, answer all your questions, and start crafting a strong case on your behalf. Don’t lose hope – there are still options to get your eligibility for a green card back.