How to Apply for Withholding of Removal in the U.S.

Every application for asylum is also considered an application for withholding of removal. Unlike asylum, there is no filing deadline for applying for withholding of removal so if more than one year has passed since your arrival in the United States and you are afraid to return to your home country, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture may be your only options to remain in the United States.

The main benefit of withholding of removal is that you get to stay and work in the United States. However, you may not apply for permanent resident status, you may not bring your spouse or children to the United States, and you may not travel outside of the United States. If you are granted withholding of removal, you will have a final order of removal entered against you, which means that you will not be allowed to reenter the United States if you leave.

Persons applying for withholding of removal must show that, if returned to their home country, their life or freedom would be threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Persons applying for withholding of removal must show that there is clear probability, or that it is more likely than not, that they would be persecuted if sent to their country of origin.

The granting of withholding of removal is mandatory to persons whose life or freedom would be threatened in their countries of origin.
If you are granted withholding of removal, you may be sent to a third country (other than the United States and your country of origin) that is willing to accept you and where you would not suffer persecution.

Differences between Withholding of Removal and Asylum

  1. Withholding of removal does not have a filing deadline. Asylum applications must be filed within one year of your arrival in the United States.
  2. Withholding of removal is mandatory if you meet the criteria. For asylum, even if you meet the criteria, the Immigration Judge has discretion to deny you asylum.
  3. Withholding of removal carries a higher burden of proof than asylum. For withholding of removal, you must show that there is a “clear probability” that you will be persecuted. Asylum requires only a showing of “reasonable probability.”
  4. If you are granted withholding of removal, you will not be allowed to adjust your status to permanent residency. If you are granted asylum, you can apply for permanent resident status one year after the date you were granted asylum.
  5. Withholding of removal does not allow you to bring your family members to the United States. If you are granted asylum, you can apply for derivate status for your spouse and unmarried children under age 21.
  6. Withholding of removal does not allow you to travel outside the United States. If you are granted asylum, you are allowed to travel outside the United States if you have a valid Refugee Travel Document that allows you to reenter the United States.