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Legal Information: Federal


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December 17, 2020

Who qualifies for asylum? Will being a victim of domestic or sexual violence qualify me?

To be eligible for asylum, you must show that:

  1. you were or will be “persecuted” in your home country; and
  2. at least one central reason for the persecution is your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.1

It is not enough to just prove that you were the victim of domestic or sexual violence. You also must show that whoever abused you did it because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because you are in a group that is targeted for persecution (a “particular social group”). For example, perhaps you can show that the abuser justified his/her actions because of your race, religion, nationality, or political opinion.

In many cases, however, the abuser commits domestic or sexual violence because s/he believes that it is his/her right to treat the victim as property, as a second-class human being, or as a slave – and the abuse is one way to keep that person under the abuser’s control. If this is the case, this is not enough to get asylum. Our asylum system does not acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence are widespread weapons of “persecution” used against women to “keep them in their place.”

    To find a list of legal resources in your area, please see Finding a Lawyer and select your state or see our National Organizations Immigration page.

    1 INA § 208(b)(1)(B)(i); 8 USC § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i)