If you or a loved one has been persecuted in another country, then the United States may be your saving grace. But that’s only the case if you can convince the government that you should be granted asylum. There are many elements that must be shown before asylum will be granted, including previous persecution in one’s home country, or a well-founded fear of persecution in the future, and the home country’s inability to protect the asylum-seeker.
Those who are granted asylum can receive a whole host of benefits, including work authorization, a Social Security card, permission to travel abroad, and the right to bring family members to the United States. Asylum can even set an individual on the path to citizenship.
What about those who don’t qualify for asylum?
Individuals who fail to timely apply for asylum, have been removed from the country previously, and those who have been convicted of certain crimes are disallowed from seeking asylum. However, there is another option open to them: withholding of removal.
Withholding of removal is a status that is granted by an immigration judge rather that U.S. immigration officials, and it is very narrow in scope. In short, in these circumstances a judge actually issues a deportation order, but then indicates that the government can’t execute that order. However, the government can still seek to deport an individual to another country if that country will take him or her.
Although an individual who has their removal withheld can legally reside and work in the U.S., there is not path to citizenship. This individual also cannot leave the country without being subject to official deportation. Also, individuals who have their removal withheld can’t bring family members into the country like asylum seekers can, and they can have the stay on their removal order lifted if the conditions in their home country improve.
Know your immigration options and aggressively pursue them
It can be stressful to be in a position where your removal is withheld. You can be left in a stressful state not knowing if and when you will be deported. But that also might be your best option for staying in the country. Of course, if you can pursue asylum, then that’s your best avenue. So, to obtain the best results possible under your circumstances, you might want to talk to an immigration attorney who will know how to utilize the law for your advantage and fight for a just outcome.