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Eligibility for Asylum Under the UN Convention Against Torture

A senior woman volunteer helping Ukrainian woman to fill in forms at asylum centre.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture ("CAT") is another method of obtaining asylum in the United States. The CAT is separate from U.S. immigration and naturalization laws. The basic eligibility requirement is that you have a reasonable fear of being tortured or otherwise persecuted if you are returned to your country of origin. Specifically, CAT protection must be granted if there are “substantial grounds for believing that [the applicant] would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

To be eligible, generally, you must be present in the U.S. and must apply for asylum under the CAT within one year of arriving in the U.S. However, there are grounds for waiving the one-year requirement. One can apply directly for asylum under the CAT and can also use the CAT as a defense if you are subject to deportation proceedings. One advantage of using the CAT is that asylum protection is mandatory for the U.S. government if fear of torture or persecution is sufficiently proven.

What is the Process?

The U.S. government has no formal application forms to file for those seeking CAT protection. However, the most common method is to apply for CAT protection (along with other types of asylum) by using Form I-589 ("Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal"). There is a box that can be checked off on Form I-589 indicating that you are seeking asylum under the CAT. The other common method is to raise CAT asylum as a legal defense in deportation proceedings. This is done in filings with the immigration court.

You will also need to support your asylum application with various documentation. For the CAT, that documentation should demonstrate patterns of torture and persecution for the group of which you are a member. Examples include reports of widespread severe abuse, evidence of your torture, abuse, and persecution, government statements, policies or laws that condone severe abuse, and more. There may be many groups subject to torture and persecution including racial and religious minorities, those with dissenting political views, sex and sexual orientation, and more.

What is "Torture"?

"Torture" is defined very broadly under the CAT. However, it must be shown that the torture will be committed by the foreign government, or by others with the consent or approval of the foreign government, or by others when the foreign government will not protect a person against the torture. Examples of torture include the following AND threats of the following:

  • Infliction of severe physical or mental suffering or pain
  • Beatings
  • Rape
  • Electric shock
  • Forced injections of drugs or other substances
  • Deprivation of food, water, sleep, etc.

Disadvantages of Using the CAT

There are some caveats when seeking asylum under the CAT. First, if there is a "safe" country that is willing to take you -- that is, a country where you will not face torture and/or persecution -- the U.S. government can deport you that that country. Also, you can be deported if you are no longer at risk of torture in your country of origin. Third, asylum under the CAT does not provide eligibility for obtaining work authorization or for becoming a naturalized citizen. Finally, CAT protection does not provide any rights or benefits to your family members.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.
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