On August 3, 2017, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board), on remand from the Fifth Circuit, held that a respondent’s asylee status was terminated when he adjusted status to lawful permanent resident (LPR). Respondent had been convicted in Texas of a controlled substance offense 11 years after being granted asylum, and subsequently adjusting his status. His new applications for asylum, withholding and CAT relief were denied by the Immigration Judge (IJ) and he appealed to the BIA claiming his asylum status had not been terminated. The Board remanded to the IJ and later held in Matter of C-J-H, 26 I&N Dec. 284 (BIA 2014) that one who is granted asylum but later adjusts status is no longer an asylee.
The IJ, using Matter of C-J-H, found respondent’s asylee status terminated by his adjustment and certified the record to the BIA, which affirmed. Respondent’s petition for review to the Fifth Circuit argued (among other points) that he was still an asylee and therefore could not be removed until that status was terminated. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, instructing the Board to fully consider the language and legislative history of the statute and issue a new decision.
The BIA did not back down, concluding that “the statutory language, as well as the relevant regulatory provisions, case law, and legislative history” mandate a finding that an asylee who adjusts loses the status of one granted asylum and thus the restrictions of INA § 208(c)(1)(A), which protect asylees from return to their original country of nationality or last residence, no longer apply to such person. The Board specifically found that adjustment of status “extinguishes…asylee status”, buttressing this view by noting that § 208(c)(2) expressly states that a grant of asylum “does not convey a right to remain permanently” in the U.S. It thus followed, held the BIA, that if any asylee who adjusts no longer has the status of one granted asylum, he or she is no longer protected by § 208(c)(1)(A)’s bars to removal. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. Matter of N-A-I-, 27 § I&N Dec. 72 (BIA 2017).