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Amos Yee’s US asylum application could take years: Lawyers

The teen blogger’s first asylum hearing will take place on Jan 30, according to the law firm representing him.

SINGAPORE: Amos Yee, the teenage blogger who is applying for asylum in the United States, will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan 30.

Grossman Law, the legal firm acting for the 18-year-old Singaporean, said that his lawyer will file an initial asylum application at the hearing along with evidence.

If the judge finds that a legitimate claim for asylum or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture exists, a further hearing will be scheduled, according to a statement by Grossman Law on Wednesday (Jan 11).

If Yee remains in custody, the hearing could be scheduled within eight to 10 weeks of the initial hearing. 

However, if he is released from custody, backlogs in the immigration courts could mean it takes years for his claim to be heard, Grossman Law said.

“With more than 520,000 cases pending in US immigration courts, asylum applicants from all over the world are subjected to lengthy wait times,” the statement said.

In late September, Yee was sentenced to six weeks' jail after he pleaded guilty to six charges for wounding the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims. He was also ordered to pay a fine of S$2,000 for defying two notices to turn up at a police station to give his statement.

Yee was sentenced in July 2015 to four weeks’ jail for the same offence. In total, he spent about 50 days in prison, after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.

He flew to the US in December where he told immigration officers he was applying for asylum.