I Was Harmed in My Country. Will I Win Asylum?
Asylum protects only those persons who are victims on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. This guide explains harm that counts for asylum and harm that DOES NOT count.
Harm That Does NOT Count for AsylumCivil unrest by itself, like general violence, does not give rise to a claim for asylum. However, Immigration acknowledged in a memorandum that some groups (women) may experience gender-specific types of harm, such as rape, more often in a lawless society.
Domestic violence also may not count. If the experienced immigration lawyer proves that the reason she was harmed by her abuser was because he (and the authorities) saw her as his property, then asylum is possible. Similarly, gang violence is usually not enough to win asylum UNLESS the gang is targeting you for a specific reason -- such as preaching your religion.
Harm That Does Count for AsylumPhysical harm is generally strong proof of persecution. Any evidence that the applicant was hurt would be useful to an asylum case.
If the suffering amounts to extreme mental suffering, this author would also argue that asylum is warranted. An example of such a case would be the parent of a girl who opposes female genital mutilation. A tougher case to win is involuntary detention, such as the mental harm suffered when men are allowed to detain their wives and daughters indefinitely.
Harm That May Count for Asylum - Economic DevastationEconomic devastation can amount to enough harm so that an Immigration Judge or an Asylum Officer grants asylum. Examples of economic suffering include lack of education which prevents employment, complete lack of employment and scarcity of food or medicine.
Asylum will be granted if (1) either basic needs are being deprived, which amounts to a threat to life or freedom or (2) a deliberate severe economic disadvantage exists. This includes government fees that are 20 times the applicant's annual salary.
Harm in Entire Country - Relocation ImpossibleThis last part is equally important. If the applicant can avoid the harm by relocating to another part of their country, asylum will not be granted. The fact finder will also review whether the applicant firmly resettled in a third country (by living there for some time legally) before entering the United States or is a citizen (or can become a citizen) of another country.