Asylum and Withholding of Removal are two forms of relief from removal that are available under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to individuals who have a fear of persecution. While both provide protection, they have different standards of proof, benefits, and limitations:


  1. Standard of Proof: To qualify for asylum, the applicant must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution, which means there is a reasonable possibility they would be persecuted based on one or more of five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
  2. Benefits: Asylum allows for a broader range of benefits, including:
    • The ability to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a green card) one year after the grant of asylum.
    • The ability to petition to bring family members to the United States.
    • The opportunity to work in the U.S. immediately upon the grant of asylum or upon applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if the case has been pending for 180 days without a decision.
    • Travel abroad with the prior consent of the United States government.
  1. Discretionary: Asylum is a discretionary form of relief, meaning that even if the applicant meets the burden of proof, the adjudicator has the discretion to deny asylum.

Withholding of Removal

  1. Standard of Proof: The standard for withholding of removal is higher than for asylum. The applicant must demonstrate that it is more likely than not (a greater than 50% chance) that they would be persecuted on account of one of the same five protected grounds.
  2. Benefits: Withholding of removal provides fewer benefits compared to asylum:
    • It does not lead to lawful permanent resident status.
    • Individuals cannot petition to bring family members.
    • It typically does not allow for travel outside the U.S.
    • It does provide work authorization in the U.S.
  1. Mandatory Relief: Unlike asylum, if an applicant meets the standard for withholding of removal, the relief must be granted and cannot be denied based on discretion.

Other Differences:

  • Bar to Eligibility: Certain bars to asylum do not apply to withholding of removal, such as the one-year filing deadline for asylum or having provided material support to a terrorist organization under duress.
  • Protection Scope: Withholding of removal only prevents an individual from being sent to the specific country where they fear persecution, while asylum provides a more general protection from removal.
  • Termination: Asylum status can be terminated if the asylee no longer meets the definition of a refugee or due to certain actions taken by the asylee, such as committing a serious crime. Withholding of removal is less easily terminated but can be reevaluated if conditions in the home country change significantly.

Each form of relief has distinct advantages and limitations, and the eligibility requirements are specific to each applicant’s situation. In practice, applicants often apply for both, with withholding of removal as a sort of backup to an asylum claim, due to the higher burden of proof required for withholding. To learn more contact Konare Law at (833) 888-0417 or visit our contact page.


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