What Are the Key Elements of Proving a Well-Founded Fear of Persecution?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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The key to an asylum claim is proving that you face a well-founded fear of persecution for one of five reasons: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. Or, you qualify because you can prove you were forced to undergo sterilization or an abortion or fear genital cutting. This well-founded fear standard does not necessarily mean torture, killing, imprisonment, or harassment or that you are specifically targeted for persecution or that you have an economic hardship or a repressive government.

You must be very clear about why you fear persecution. You can make a case by convincing the court that you have suffered persecution in the past and that the conditions in your country have not changed. Or you can show that it is likely you will suffer persecution if returned to your country. Your own testimony may be enough if it is compelling, consistent, believable, and specific. Your case is strengthened if you bring corroborating proof, such as newspaper articles, affidavits of witnesses or experts, journals, books, doctors’ statements, photographs, etc., to the hearing.

The courts recognize the difficulty asylum applicants face in proving a claim. It can be an emotional nightmare for those traumatized by events that forced them to flee their homeland. Simply having a discussion in the first place and in a language that they are grappling to learn are often daunting tasks. Many cannot stomach the discussion and questioning. It is for these reasons that we don’t advocate representing yourself; get professional legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney.

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