Asylum Applicants can Prove Nationality by Testimony

In a decision that should help stateless asylum applicants, the Second Circuit ruled that asylum applicants can prove their citizenship through testimonial evidence. The applicant in that case was a stateless Tibetan who was born in Nepal. He was severely beaten by Nepalese Maoists for refusing to join them. He was also beaten by the police because he participated in Tibetan independence rally during which he wore a “Free Tibet” t-shirt. He came to the US using a fake passport and applied for asylum in 2006 and his application was referred to the immigration judge. The immigration judge denied his application based on his alleged lack of credibility, and the Board affirmed.

In vacating the Board’s decision, the court ruled that pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(ii), the applicant’s testimony was enough to meet his burden. The court vacated the Board’s order and remanded the case to the Board to resolve the question of nationality since it was a threshold question for his asylum application.