Home > Asylum > Asylum on the ground of Particular Social Group

If you are seeking asylum in the United States and you are unable to prove that you have been persecuted or have a reasonable fear of persecution in your country based on race, religion, nationality or political opinion, you may have another option. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to qualify for asylum as a member of a particular social group, because the legal definition of this classification isn’t as strict as the others.

However, the lack of specific criteria also allows for individual interpretation of what a “particular social group” actually is. In other words, there is no guarantee that different asylum officers or immigration judges will view your application on this basis  in the same way — one may determine that you are a member of a particular social group, and the other may not. Therefore it it is critical that you consult a knowledgeable asylum attorney before pursuing this option.

For the purposes of U.S. asylum/immigration law, a particular social group is generally defined as a set of people who have something in common that is so essential to each person’s identity — including but not limited to race, ethnicity or gender — that it can’t or shouldn’t be changed.

Legal recognition as a particular social group may also hinge upon whether or not there is a clear distinction between the group and the rest of the population in a given country, and whether the country acknowledges the group’s existence.

The United States government has often accepted the following as particular social groups: tribes; ethnic groups; certain social classes; people that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; people forced to participate in armed conflicts as children; former members of the police or armed forces (in certain circumstances); women (in certain circumstances); and people related to dissidents.

With its relatively recent acceptance of people persecuted based on gender as a particular social group, the U.S. has granted asylum to women who proved that they were forced to endure, or who have a legitimate fear of being forced to endure female circumcision and related procedures; arranged marriages; and domestic violence in their countries.

IIn some cases, the U.S. has also granted asylum to applicants who proved that they were persecuted or feared persecution because their country’s government wrongly believed that they belonged to a particular social group.

Finally, it is important to be aware that there are no universal rules pertaining to particular social groups for U.S. asylum purposes. This means that what the U.S. government recognizes as a particular social group in one country may not be recognized as a particular social group in another country, depending on factors including but not limited to the societal norms and laws in each one. For this reason, it is important to consult with an experienced asylum attorney when seeking asylum based on your standing as a member of a particular social group.

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Due to its complexity, it is extremely difficult for the average person to understand he U.S. asylum process. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not try to file an application for asylum on your own. Our attorneys have extensive experienced in US asylum law, gained through helping countless clients  from all over the world.  Our team will work with you to provide the best possible chance of success, so call us toll free at (888) ZONTLAW / (888) 966-8529

Can I ask for political asylum from outside the US?

NO. To apply for political asylum, you must be in the United States (embassies or diplomatic missions outside the US will not help you in this matter). Being outside the US, you can only apply for refugee status and this procedure is also a complicated procedure.

Can I apply for asylum when crossing the border?

This is possible, and such cases often occur at the border crossing with Mexico. The application directly on the border is an extreme measure. A very important point is that when you cross the border without the necessary permission (US visa) and asylum application, you are most likely to be detained and placed in an immigration prison where you will conduct initial inquiries and check all the facts you previously stated . The decisions of the border service can be delayed for weeks or even months.

Can I apply for political asylum if I am illegally in the US?

You have the right to defend and examine your application, even if you are in an illegal status. It is very important that this happens in the first year of your stay in the country. Otherwise, you have to argue, there are compelling reasons why you did not do this before.

How long does it take to get an interview for asylum?

Beginning on January 29, 2018, the Immigration Department for Asylum (USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Service Group) will give priority to the newest applications when assigning interviews. Such a change in the schedule of interviews will make it possible to weed out those applicants who use groundless statements and try to use this process solely to obtain a work permit and will enable the USCIS to immediately identify such persons and begin the process of their deportation. In reality, the new Priority will allow the USCIS to make decisions on qualified asylum seekers more quickly and efficiently.

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