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Legal Information: Federal

Immigration

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Updated: 
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 domestic violence cases, it is difficult to show that the abuser harmed you because of your race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Instead, many domestic violence cases are based on harm on account of your membership in a particular social group. Each case is different and depends on the facts, but some domestic violence victims may be able to show that they were abused because they were married to the abuser and could not leave the relationship or because they are women.2

Domestic violence asylum claims are very complicated and difficult to win without an attorney. 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)
    2 See, e.g., Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014); De Pena-Paniagua v. Barr, 957 F.3d 88 (1st Cir. 2020)