“Asylum” is a way to apply for refugee protections from within the United States, including protection from deportation. After a year in asylum status, asylees can apply for lawful permanent residence. Asylees can also protect or petition for their spouses and minor children.
To be eligible for asylum, an applicant must show that there is at least a 10% chance that the government, or someone that the government is unwilling or unable to control, would harm the applicant or threaten the applicant’s life. The applicant must also show that they will be targeted based on one of five protected grounds:
- Political opinion
- Membership in a particular social group
Read the Law: 8 USCA § 1158(b)(1)(A)(i)
Certain criminal convictions will disqualify an applicant for asylum status, and asylum is a discretionary benefit. Applicants must generally apply for asylum within one year of their entry into the United States, unless they meet an exception to this deadline.
Withholding of Removal – Immigration and Nationality Act
“Withholding of Removal” can be requested under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This process is similar to asylum, but does not lead to lawful permanent residence. Applicants must show that they risk serious harm (persecution) if removed to their home counties for one of the five reasons listed above. While withholding of removal requires a higher risk of harm (51% or more likely than not), it is a mandatory benefit (i.e. it cannot be denied if an applicant qualifies). An applicant may be disqualified by certain criminal convictions. There is no one year filing deadline for withholding of removal. Someone who wins Withholding of Removal will be granted free employment authorization.
Read the Law: 8 USCA § 1158
Withholding of Removal – Convention Against Torture
“Withholding of Removal” or “Deferral of Removal” can also be requested under the Convention Against Torture Treaty. This process grants protection, but is not a pathway to lawful permanent residence. Applicants must show that they will be tortured by the government upon return to their home countries, or that the government would acquiesce to torture by a non-governmental person or organization. Read the Law: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment