Wisam Yousif applied for asylum on the basis of past persecution he had suffered in Iraq as a Chaldean Christian. Throughout the proceedings, Yousif provided contradictory evidence, leading the Immigration Judge to conclude that he had fabricated the entire narrative of past persecution. Four years after the application was first filed, the Immigration Judge denied it and deemed it o be frivolous. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security conceded at that time that a pattern or practice of persecution against Chaldean Christians was occurring in Iraq, and stipulated to a grant of withholding of removal for Yousif.
Yousif appealed, noting that the evidentiary standard for withholding of removal is higher than that for asylum, and thus, if he was eligible for withholding of removal on the basis of a clear probability of future persecution, he was necessarily eligible for asylum based on a well-founded fear of future persecution, even if his allegations of past persecution were fabricated. Essentially, he argued that his allegations of past persecution were immaterial because they did not change the outcome - he was statutorily eligible for asylum.
On appeal, the Sixth Circuit stated that the frivolous nature of an asylum application must be judged based on circumstances in existence at the time of filing, not at the time of adjudication. Thus, if at the time Yousif filed his application, he would have been eligible for asylum based on a well-founded fear of future persecution due to a pattern or practice of persecution of Chaldean Christians in Iraq, his allegations of past persecution (even if fabricated) were immaterial, and could not support a frivolous finding. If, however, the conditions in Iraq at the time of filing would not have given rise to a well-founded fear of persecution absent some past persecution, Yousif's fabricated allegations were material, and could support a frivolous finding. The court remanded for the Immigration Judge to evaluate the materiality of the fabricated allegations at the time the application was filed.
The full text of Yousif v. Lynch can be found here: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/15a0181p-06.pdf