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Withholding of Removal

Withholding of Removal

The law prohibits the removal of anyone to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a social group.

There are several key differences between asylum and withholding of removal. First, withholding of removal is nondiscretionary. If an individual demonstrates qualification for withholding, it must be granted. Second, the standard for obtaining withholding is that it is “more likely than not” that the individual will face persecution if removed. This is defined as a 51% chance of persecution. Thus, the standard is much higher than the “reasonable possibility” standard required in asylum cases. Third, the bars to withholding are narrower than the bars to asylum. The bars include:

  • An applicant who has persecuted others;
  • An applicant who is a danger to the community after having been convicted of a particularly serious crime including an aggravated felony for which a sentence of five years or more was imposed;
  • An applicant who has committed a serious non-political crime outside of the U.S.;
  • An applicant whom the Attorney General has reasonable grounds to believe is a danger to the security of the U.S.;
  • An applicant who has engaged in terrorist activity.

A person granted withholding of removal is not granted protection from removal to a third country. Furthermore, a grant of withholding of removal does not result in permanent resident status or the ability to apply for permanent resident status. Although, an individual granted withholding of removal may receive work authorization.


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