The United States offers asylum to people who are concerned about facing persecution in their home country. Asylum allows someone to stay within the United States because they need protection. In fact, many people will enter the United States in an emergency, and then apply for asylum once they have arrived.
There’s a similar process called withholding of removal. How is this different than asylum and how might it be beneficial?
A short-term solution
One key difference is that withholding of removal isn’t permanent. The government can revoke the status in the future, if the situation changes. For instance, maybe a specific ethnic group stops being persecuted. The government could then send someone back to their home country, claiming they no longer need protection.
An option for some who can’t seek asylum
One of the benefits of withholding of removal – which is essentially just stating that the person won’t be deported because they could be persecuted at home – is that it may be granted to those who aren’t eligible for asylum.
For example, an individual has a year to apply for asylum after entering the U.S. If they fail to do this, they lose eligibility to apply in the future. This can put them in a precarious position where they can’t use asylum but they still need protection, and withholding of removal may give them that protection on a short-term basis.
Immigration laws are complex, and those who are working their way through the system certainly need to know about all of the different options they have and what steps to take.