Withholding of Removal: Explained

An immigrant who faces a credible fear of persecution in their country of origin may be eligible to obtain asylum protection in the United States. Although asylum is the most well known immigration options for people who face imminent danger in their native country, it is not the only option that is currently available under American law. Immigrants may also be able to remain in the U.S. through an alternative form of relief known as ‘withholding of removal’. 

What is Withholding of Removal?

Under U.S. immigration law, withholding of removal is a specialized order than can only be issued by an immigration judge. It can be issued by an asylum officer. If a person can prove that they are more likely than not to face persecution in their home country based on a protected status—race, gender, religion, political group, etc.—then they cannot be deported. 

Under U.S. Law Withholding is Mandatory—If You Satisfy the Legal Test

American law requires immigration judges to “withhold” the removal when legal standards are met. If evidence is presented demonstrating at least a 51 percent likelihood of persecution, immigration judges have no discretion to order deportation. At least for the time being, removal proceedings must be halted. 

Withholding of Removal is a Limited Benefit

Withholding of removal is not a permanent solution. In most cases, the removal proceedings against the immigrants will eventually be reopened—assuming that no other form of relief has been granted. Unlike asylum status, withholding of removal does not open up the path for a green card or U.S. citizenship. It is temporary protection. 

Does Withholding of Removal Offer Benefits Over Applying Asylum?

Most people who are seeking the withholding of removal have already applied for asylum, missed the deadline to apply for asylum, or will concurrently apply for asylum. As a general rule, asylum status offers far more benefits than does obtaining a hold on removal. That being said, withholding of removal is still a very important immigration option because it is open to some immigrants who are not eligible to apply for asylum. If you already missed the asylum deadline or you have otherwise been deemed ineligible to get asylum in the U.S., you can still apply to obtain the withholding of removal. 

How Do You Apply for Withholding of Removal?

As explained by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applicants can apply for withholding of removal using Form I-589. This is the same application that immigrants must use to apply for asylum. You can—and in many cases should—apply for both asylum status and withholding of removal at the same time. 

Discuss Your Case With Our Los Angeles, CA Asylum Lawyer Right Away

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our compassionate Los Angeles immigration attorney has extensive experience handling asylum cases and withholding of removal cases. We will protect your legal rights. To request your confidential immigration consultation, please give our Los Angeles law office a call today. (213) 262-2000.