Seeking Asylum Based on Religious Persecution

If you’ve experienced attacks, threats, or harassment due to your beliefs, you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from religious persecution worldwide. You should be free to practice what you believe in without fearing for your life, but sadly, not all groups and countries see it that way.

The United States protects immigrants who seek asylum based on religious persecution. Learn how the asylum process works below.

What Is Asylum?

Asylum is a type of government protection that allows religious minorities to remain in the U.S. if they fear persecution for their beliefs in another country. If granted asylum, the government cannot deport you or force you to return to your home country.

With this protection, you can freely live and work in America. You’re also eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) after one year.

Who Can Apply for Religious Asylum?

If you wish to apply for asylum, your refugee status matters. According to immigration law, people seeking asylum for religious persecution must currently be in the United States or waiting for admittance at a port of entry.

The government does not grant asylum to every applicant. To qualify, you will need to be a faithful practitioner of your religion. You can’t claim asylum simply because you were born into a religion.

What Counts as Religion

The United States does not explicitly define what counts as “religion” under the law. It considers nearly any type of belief system as religion, no matter how fringe or uncommon those beliefs are.

To apply for asylum based on religious persecution, you don’t need to practice Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, or any other traditional major religion. This means that even if you belong to a small religious sect, you could still qualify for asylum if you’re experiencing persecution due to your beliefs.

What Counts as Persecution

The U.S. defines religious persecution as threats or infliction of physical, mental, or psychological harm due to one’s beliefs.

Persecution does not need to come solely from the government. You may experience persecution from other religious groups, whether your country’s government supports those groups or not. 

How to Apply for Asylum

To apply for asylum, you must fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. On your application, clearly describe the religious persecution you’ve suffered as your reason for seeking asylum.

You must prove that your religion (or lack of religion) directly led to your persecution. You can’t say that you want asylum because you disagree with your country’s beliefs.

Examples of religious persecution include:

  • Violent attacks from religious police due to your beliefs
  • Punishment for failing to comply with religious dress code
  • Targeted attacks due to non-belief, such as atheism
  • Forced conversion to another religion

Claim Your Religious Freedom with Help From an Experienced Immigration Attorney

Applying for asylum is an emotional and turbulent process, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’d like to learn more about seeking asylum based on religious persecution, call the American Dream Law Office at (888) 615-1254 today.

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