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Obtaining Refugee Status in a Third Country

Posted by attorney Elizabeth Blandon

Persons outside the United States who have a fear of returning to their home country may qualify for refugee status while abroad. The fear of extreme harm must be based on the foreigner’s:

  • race;
  • religion;
  • nationality;
  • membership in a particular social group; or
  • political opinion

Because these individuals are running for their lives and the survival of their family members, they have often already fled to a third country. Despite this, they wish to seek lifelong protection in the United States.

Unfortunately for them, the Department of Homeland Security may try to deny the asylum case by claiming that the family firmly resettled in the third country. Firm resettlement in a third country is a bar to asylum. Other bars include the one-year filing deadline and committing non-political offenses.

Simply living in a third country is not enough to deny asylum. Immigration will look to whether the third country is restricting the foreigner’s ability to remain there permanently. The immigration status, housing eligibility, and employment eligibility will be considered carefully. For example, the International Herald Tribune reported that Syrian refugees are being denied access to neighboring countries including Turkey.

Foreigners who are unable to obtain housing or work in a third country, but can travel to the United States on a visa, are likely to obtain asylum status here. If they are abroad, they submit a refugee case to a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Properly presented asylum cases require applications and proof of why the foreigner fears persecution in their home country. The value of hiring an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with current refugee law is extremely important and will likely determine whether the case is approved.

Although the author is a Board-certified immigration expert, this guide is intended as general information and not specific legal advice. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to address individual concerns.

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