Individuals with prior removal orders generally have very limited opportunities to remain in the U.S. and face removal to their home country. However, individuals who have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in their home country may have an opportunity to seek relief in withholding-only proceedings. Unlike removal proceedings, withholding-only proceedings are limited proceedings involving noncitizens subject to expedited removal under and noncitizens subject to reinstatement or prior orders of removal who have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture.
A noncitizen must express their fear of persecution or torture to be scheduled for a reasonable fear interview with an asylum officer; if the officer concludes there is a reasonable fear, the case will be referred to the immigration court for withholding-only proceedings before the Immigration Judge (“IJ”). If the asylum officer concludes there is no reasonable fear, the noncitizen may request an IJ review the finding. If the IJ agrees with the asylum officers finding, there is no appeal and the noncitizen will be removed. If the IJ finds there is a reasonable fear, the noncitizen will be placed in withholding-only proceedings.
An applicant for withholding of removal must demonstrate his life would be threatened because of his race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. The applicant must also show the evidence in the record demonstrates a clear probability of persecution, meaning it is “more likely than not” the person will be persecuted upon return to their country.
Under asylum, an applicant granted relief may apply for permanent residence after one year.
However, under withholding of removal, the applicant is only given the right not to be removed to the country of persecution and is entitled to receive a work permit. Recently our firm successfully obtained a grant of withholding of removal for our client “X” – a
young, indigenous single mother from rural Guatemala who survived years of domestic violence at the hands of her partner. X will now be allowed to safely remain in the U.S. with her daughter.