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On May 11, 2023, a new regulation concerning asylum went into effect: the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule, forbids asylum to anyone crossing the southern border with a few exceptions. A federal court in California vacated this rule. However, this regulation is still in effect while the federal court’s ruling is on appeal. This means that the Lawful Pathways rule is still in effect for the future. Asylum seekers who crossed into Mexico before crossing into America are still mostly ineligible for asylum for now. However, there are exceptions, and asylum seekers can still seek asylum in special circumstances. In this case, an experienced immigration lawyer would be able to help an asylum seeker prove why their circumstances are special.

Who is Exempt from The “Lawful Pathways” Rule?

In the United States, the federal government assumes that anyone who enters through the southern border without a visa is not eligible for asylum. However, there are exceptions to this rule for the following people:

  • People who have a pre-scheduled appointment to come to the border;
  • Unaccompanied minors,
  • Asylum seekers from Mexico who did not cross another national border to arrive in the United States, and
  • People who come to the United States with special permission to enter (parole).

This rule does not ban all immigrants from countries other than Mexico, but it does automatically ban most adult immigrants from seeking asylum. However, a person can prove to the federal government that there are special circumstances that make them an exception. Those circumstances include:

  • Being a victim of severe types of human trafficking, like sex trafficking and labor trafficking through the use of violence, fraud, force, or coercion,
  • Minors who have been trafficked,
  • Having a severe and immediate medical emergency, or
  • The real threat of severe and immediate harm, including rape, kidnapping, and murder of oneself or one’s family if forced to leave the United States.

You Can Apply for Asylum if You Think You Have an Exception to the Rule

An immigration officer will ultimately determine whether an applicant fits an exception to the rule. It’s already assumed that a child who comes to the United States alone is at immediate threat of harm if forced to leave the United States alone. In the case of adults, if the immigration officer doesn’t think that there’s an immediate risk of severe harm, but a reasonable possibility of harm or torture, then the asylum case will be sent to immigration court. The immigration court will then determine if the person is eligible for asylum.

This is where an immigration attorney can be especially helpful, since an immigration attorney not only understands and works in immigration court, but also understands what an asylum officer is looking for in an interview. Consult with a Los Angeles immigration attorney at Finnegan & Diba to determine if your circumstance qualifies for an exception to the Legal Pathways rule.

The Law Office of Finnegan & Diba is a leading immigration law firm in Los Angeles, ready to help you navigate the very complex immigration process. For further information or to schedule a consultation with one of our expert Los Angeles immigration lawyers, please contact the Law Office of Finnegan & Diba at (213) 480-0292 or visit to learn more.

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