This page and the accompanying links explain how to apply for asylum, withholding of removal and the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in the U.S. or refugee status if you are abroad.
Asylum in the U.S. may be granted if the applicant can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on (1) political opinion, (2) religion, (3) race, (4) nationality, or (5) membership in a particular social group. A person who is outside the U.S. may apply for refugee status based on these same criteria. The Refugee Act of 1980 conforms US immigration laws with various UN conventions and protocols.
The fear of persecution must be either by the government of one’s country or by a group that the government is unable to control.
If the person is able to establish “past persecution”, a presumption arises that he has established a well-founded fear of persecution. The burden of proof shifts to the government to demonstrate that circumstances have changed and that the person no longer has a well-founded fear of persecution or that the person could avoid persecution by relocating in another part of his country and that it would be reasonable for him to do so.
If a person is in lawful immigration status, he can submit his application for asylum (Form I-589) directly with the USCIS. Should his application be denied, he will remain in status. However, if he in not in lawful status, should his application not be approved by the USCIS, it will be referred to an Immigration Judge.
If a person is in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge, he may also be eligible to apply for withholding of removal and for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). However, in order to qualify for withholding of removal, the person must demonstrate that it is more like than not that he will be persecuted if he is forced to return to his country. This is a higher standard than the “well-founded fear” standard for asylum which can be met if the person has at least a 10% chance of being persecuted. Also, unlike asylum, obtaining withholding of removal or relief under CAT does not necessarily lead to permanent residence in the U.S.
Under Convention Against Torture (CAT), the six elements of “torture” are as follows:
- An intentional act;
- Infliction of severe pain or suffering;
- Under the custody or control of the offender;
- For a broad array of wrongful purposes;
- By or sanctioned by a public official; and
- Not arising out of lawful sanctions.
If the government can demonstrate that the person has “firmly resettled” in a 3rd country, the person is ineligible for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT.
Although generally a person must apply for asylum within one year after arriving in the U.S., there are some notable exceptions to this rule.
“I can honestly say that Mr. Carl Shusterman and his team are probably the best in the business when it comes to immigration matters. Carl’s greatest asset is his prior work experience as a former INS prosecutor. My family and I were on the verge of being deported from the United States. Because of Carl’s expertise and dedication, not only are we allowed to remain in this country permanently but are on path of obtaining citizenship…” (More client reviews…)
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Green Cards Through Asylum is divided into the following subtopics:
- Success Story
- Asylum Video
- General Information
- Asylee Adjustment of Status
- Temporary Protected Status
- Articles and Reports
- Credible & Reasonable Fear FAQs
ASYLUM SUCCESS STORY
- Asylum: Winning Your Case
A person with a “well-founded fear” of persecution if they return to their home country may apply for asylum before the USCIS. A person in removal proceedings may apply for asylum before an Immigration Judge.
GENERAL INFORMATION – Asylum
- Asylum (USCIS)
- Asylum in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Western U.S.)
- Asylum Eligibility and Applications FAQ (USCIS)
- Services Available for Asylees and Refugees (USCIS)
- Asylum Office Locator (USCIS)
- Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual (USCIS)
- Country-Specific Information (USCIS)
- Court Approves Settlement in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers (11-5-13)
- U.S. Reaches its Refugee Admissions Target for First Time Since 1980 (10-21-13)
- ABT Settlement Agreement (5-10-13)
- Oshodi v. Holder: Petitioner Has Constitutional Right to Testify in Support of Asylum Application (8-27-13)
- Final Rule: Forwarding of Asylum Applications to the DOS (3-29-13)
- INS Memo on Child Status Protection Act and Asylum
ASYLEE ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS
- Implementation of Ngwanyia Settlement Agreement
- AILF Announces Settlement of Asylee Adjustment Lawsuit
- Ngwanyia v. Ashcroft - Complete Text of Decision (2-12-04)
TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (USCIS)
- TPS Extended for Somalis (11-6-13)
- TPS Extended for Syrians (6-17-13)
- TSP Extended for Salvadorans (5-30-13)
- TPS Extended for Hondurans (4-3-13)
- TPS Extended for Nicaraguans (4-3-13)
- TPS Redesignations and Extensions for Sudan and South Sudan (USCIS)(1-9-13)
- TPS Re-Registration Period Extended for Haitians (USCIS) (12-27-12)
- TPS Extended for Haitians (USCIS) (10-1-12)
ARTICLES AND REPORTS
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1999 – Present)
- Immigration Judge Reports — Asylum (TRAC)
- International Religious Freedom Reports (2001 – Present)
- Trafficking in Persons Reports (2001 – Present)
- Closing the Asylum Door by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & David Neal (1995)
- Seeking Asylum in the U.S. by Attorneys Carl Shusterman & Michael Straus (1991)
CREDIBLE & REASONABLE FEAR FAQs
- Credible Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)
- Reasonable Fear: Frequently Asked Questions (USCIS)