Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture

In addition to asylum, there are two forms of relief available to an individual who fears harm in his or her home country – Withholding of Removal and Protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). These benefits are separate and apart from asylum, but they may also be requested at the same time as filing for asylum.

Withholding of Removal

To qualify for withholding of removal, an applicant must establish that it is more likely than not that his or her life or freedom would be threatened in their home country on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. A grant of withholding or removal ensures that an individual is not returned to the country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened.

Convention Against Torture

To qualify for protection under CAT, an applicant must establish that it is more likely than not that he or she will be tortured in the proposed country of removal. Torture is defined as an extreme form of cruel and inhumane treatment, must cause severe physical or mental pain and suffering and must be intended to cause severe pain and suffering.


Torture can be an act inflicted for a variety of purposes, including obtaining valuable information or a confession, punishing the victim for some reason, intimidation or coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.


Torture must be inflicted by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public officer or other person acting in an official capacity. The victim must be in the custody or physical control or the torturer. Torture does not include the pain and suffering that arises only from, is inherent in, or is incidental to lawful sanctions.

One-Year Issue

A person will only be eligible for asylum if they submitted their application within one year of their entry to the United States, subject to a limited number of exceptions. This one-year requirement does not apply to applications for withholding of removal and CAT. Thus, withholding of removal and CAT protection may be available to individuals who have been in the United States for an extended period of time, including many years.


In addition, withholding of removal and CAT protection are also available to individuals who are barred from asylum due to a prior deportation, disqualifying criminal convictions, or perhaps even firm resettlement in a third country.

Distinctions from Asylum

The most important distinction among asylum, withholding of removal and CAT is the standard of proof. For withholding or removal and CAT claims, the standard is significantly higher than for asylum.


In addition, only immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals may grant withholding or removal or protection under CAT.


Finally, another important difference is that a grant of withholding of removal or CAT does not lead to a green card as is the case with asylum approvals. Further, while a spouse and minor children can receive asylum protection automatically upon a favorable grant, there are no derivative benefits for spouses and children with grants of withholding or removal and CAT.

Reeves Immigration Law Group – Full-Service Immigration Law Firm

The skilled legal team at Reeves Immigration Law Group may be able to help if you are fearful that you will be harmed after leaving the United States. We will work tirelessly to protect your safety! Contact Reeves Immigration Law Group today for a confidential consultation about your case.

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