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What is Withholding of Removal?

Withholding of removal is a certain type of legal relief provided to those fearing persecution in their country of origin. This remedy is provided to foreign nationals who are in the United States and meet the criteria for asylum, but may not qualify for asylum due to various factors. In other words, even if you do not qualify for asylum, you may still be eligible for withholding of removal. Unlike asylum, Withholding of Removal does not provide a path to permanent residency or citizenship in the United States. 

Key Takeaways

  • Withholding of removal is a type of legal relief provided to those fearing persecution in their country of origin.
  • If an individual is granted withholding of removal, they cannot be deported to the country where they fear persecution. 
  • Withholding of removal requires a higher standard of proof in contrast to asylum. 

Withholding of Removal vs Asylum

Asylum and Withholding of Removal are two forms of relief available to foreign nationals in the United States who face persecution in their home countries. While they have some similarities, there are key differences between the two.

Asylum allows an individual who meets the legal definition of a refugee to remain in the United States and eventually apply for lawful permanent resident status. To qualify, the individual must prove they are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Those granted asylum can also include their spouse and children as derivative asylees. Importantly, asylum status provides work authorization and access to some public benefits.

On the other hand, Withholding of Removal only prevents an individual's removal or deportation to a specific country if it is determined their life or freedom would be threatened based on the same protected grounds as asylum. However, it has a higher burden of proof than asylum - the individual must show it is "more likely than not" they would face persecution. Unlike asylum, Withholding of Removal is temporary and must be renewed periodically. It does not allow the individual to apply for permanent residence or provide derivative status for family members. Additionally, withholding status is more limited in employment authorization and access to public benefits compared to asylum. While Withholding of Removal prevents return to the country of persecution, Asylum provides a more robust and permanent immigration solution for those who qualify as refugees.

Bottom Line

As mentioned, it is much more difficult to prove that you’re eligible for withholding than for asylum. This is due to the fact that you must show a clear probability of future persecution if returned to your country of origin.

If you have any questions regarding Withholding of Removal, or if you need help determining whether you should apply for Withholding or Asylum, book a consultation with one of our legal experts today.

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