Are you eligible for asylum based on religion?
If you have a well-founded fear that you may be persecuted in your country based on your religious beliefs, you may be eligible for asylum in the US. Religious persecution can take many forms and you may fear persecution from the government of your country or from a group that the government is either unable or unwilling to control.
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Under US immigration laws, persecution due to religious beliefs includes:
- Serious threats or infliction of physical, psychological, or economic harm by one’s own government or uncontrolled group
- Punishment by a religious police through being beaten, detained, or otherwise harmed
- Punishment by a family member, whose authority over you is recognized or tolerated by your country’s government, based on your supposed failure to comply with religious norms
- Special restrictions on your religious freedom imposed by your country’s laws that have a serious impact on your individual way of life
- Severe discrimination imposed on your religious group or banning the practice of your religion and forcing you to join a certain religion against your will
Applications for asylum based on religion are decided on a case-by-case basis as there are a wide range of possible circumstances. In order to obtain asylum, you must demonstrate that your actual or perceived lack of religion is the main reason for your persecution.
To apply for asylum based on religion in the US, you must submit an Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal: Form I-589 to the USCIS. Generally, this shoud been done within one year of your arrival to the US and you may include your spouse and children on your application.
If you are granted asylum, you may apply for a green card one year after being approved. To do so you must file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening an 8 attorney firm specializing in immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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