Every year people from different countries and facing adverse circumstances come to the United States (U.S.) seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will be persecuted.
Below you will find some answers to common questions that arise when it comes to this immigration relief.
What is Asylum?
Asylum is a protection grantable to foreign nationals already in the U.S. or arriving at the border who meet the definition of a “refugee.” The United Nations 1951 Convention define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
Who is an asylee?
An asylee is an individual who has been granted asylum and is authorized to work in the U.S., may apply for a social security card, request permission to travel, and can petition to bring family members to the U.S.
Can you bring your relatives into the US after you have been granted asylum?
You may include your spouse and children who are physically present in the U.S. as dependents on your asylum application (I- 589) at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your application. (Children must be under 21 years old and unmarried if you want to include them).
What is Withholding of Removal?
Individuals who have been banned from asylum may be eligible for “withholding of removal.”
What is the difference between asylum and withholding of removal?
Asylum is a discretionary benefit, and certain individuals by law are not eligible for asylum. For example, individuals who have previously been deported and then reentered the U.S., or who did not apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S., are barred from applying for asylum..”
A person who is granted withholding of removal is protected from being returned to his/her home country and receives the right to remain in the U.S. and work legally. Although, may never leave the U.S without executing that removal order (which means the individual is still in removal proceedings and waiting for a judge´s decision).
Another difference in comparison to Asylum, is that the individual cannot petition to bring family members to the U.S. And unlike asylum, when a family seeks withholding of removal together, a judge may grant protection to the parent while denying it to the children.
Withholding of removal does not offer permanent protection neither a path to permanent residence. If conditions improve in the individual’s home country, the immigration authorities can revoke withholding of removal and again seek the person’s deportation. This can occur even years after a person is granted protection.
Individuals convicted of serious crimes, are not eligible for withholding of removal, and are limited to applying for relief under the Convention Against Torture.
What is the Convention Against Torture (CAT)?
If you have come to the U.S. because you fear being tortured in your country of origin, you should apply for protection under the United Nations (U.N.) Convention Against Torture. Many immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking protection from persecution apply for asylum but if you specifically fear torture, the CAT can protect you from being deported.
It is common to apply for asylum and CAT at the same time because an applicant could still be eligible for CAT protections if their asylum application is denied.
What happens if the Immigration office grants you the protection under CAT?
In order to be granted CAT protection, you need to prove that you would be tortured if you return to your home country. If you are granted protection from removal under CAT, you will not be removed to the country where you fear torture. You will be granted “withholding of removal” or “deferral of removal.”
The CAT is a mandatory form of relief, and if you are eligible, the U.S. must grant you protection.
Another aspect of CAT that differs from asylum is that the torture you face in your home country does not have to be on account of one of the five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and membership in a particular social group. The U.N. CAT defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for a variety of purposes.
It is important to bear in mind that CAT protections do not prevent your removal from the U.S., you may instead be sent to another country where you would not face torture. If granted protection under CAT, you would not be eligible to apply for a green card. It also does not provide any rights to family members either in the U.S. or abroad.
If you think you may be eligible for protections under CAT, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing an application. The application for CAT is the same as the one for asylum and withholding of removal.
Visit our website for more information about Asylum and other immigration reliefs in the U.S.
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The Law Offices of Uzoma Ubanii PLLC