Are you researching what is race-based asylum or asylum based on racial persecution? Race-based asylum is a legal method to seek asylum in the United States. Race-based asylum may also include ethnic and tribal identity as well. Anyone who is afraid of returning to their home country due to persecution based on one or more of the following protected grounds may apply for asylum in the US:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality
  • membership in a particular social group
  • and/or political opinion

What Is Race-Based Asylum In The United States?

A person who is afraid of returning to their country because they are persecuted due to their race, ethnicity, or tribal affiliation can therefore seek asylum in the United States

Asylum is not, however, limited to these grounds. People who are persecuted due to their religion, nationality, political opinion, and/or membership in a particular social group can also apply for asylum. Many people often have multiple grounds for their asylum case, which means they may be persecuted for more than one reason in their home country. When this happens, an asylum applicant can indicate that they are being persecuted because of a combination of grounds. For example, a person might be targeted because of their race but also because of their political beliefs. In this case, the applicant would official mark several of the aforementioned categories in their application form. All individuals who apply for asylum, no matter the grounds of their case, use the same application process and forms. 

Asylum based on racial grounds

To apply for asylum, a person must have either experienced past persecution or they must have a fear of future persecution. So a person who has been targeted in the past due to their race, ethnicity and/or tribal affiliation, or if they fear such persecution in the future, they may be eligible for asylum in the US. Such an individual is eligible for asylum as long as the persecution comes from the government of their home country, or from a group that their government cannot, or will not, control. 

Applying for asylum based on fear of persecution due to race, ethnicity, or tribal affiliation can be difficult and complicated, but it is very important that the persecution is accurately and clearly described. An experienced asylum attorney can help an applicant compile their case in a detailed and beneficial way. Race-based asylum and the associated persecution can be more complicated than simply the color of someone’s skin. Such persecution can look different in many countries in the world and each of them have specific historic and cultural factors that may need to be described. Such persecution can also be very traumatic for many people and may even be difficult for them to discuss. However, it is important to present the best case possible and an experienced asylum attorney can be critical to a winning case.

There are many different, and sometimes complex, forms of race-based persecution that occurs in different countries in the world. Some examples of persecution that may qualify under the race-based asylum grounds could include:

  • Violent targeting by the state, a community, or even uncontrolled militant groups due to a person’s race, ethnicity, or tribe;
  • Targeting based on a perceived membership in a particular racial, ethnic, or tribal group;
  • Ongoing genocide or widespread, uncontrolled targeting of a race, ethnic group or tribe;
  • Legal actions, arrest, disappearances, or other serious harm being carried out by the government against one of the noted groups;
  • And/or if a country makes conditions for a particular racial, ethnic, or tribal group so difficult that their daily existence rises to a serious level of harm.

These are just a few examples of possible persecution scenarios that could qualify under the race-based asylum grounds; there are many other scenarios that may also qualify as persecution based on racial grounds. 

As previously noted, a person can file for asylum based on multiple grounds. Many asylum applicants face persecution due to a combination of asylum grounds. In these instances, a person would file for asylum based on multiple grounds. Many, if not most, asylum cases have more than one grounds as part of the case. You are not limited to applying for asylum under only one grounds. As such, it is important to completely explain all of the threats and risks to you in your application. Do not try to limit yourself to only one reason if you face risks due to other factors as well. 

How To Apply for race-based asylum

Because asylum can be a complex process, an immigration attorney with specialized experience in asylum should be consulted to assist in the application process. Whether a person chooses to use an attorney to apply for asylum or decide to do it on their own, all applicants for asylum in the US use the same forms and processes. The following asylum application process steps are helpful to a good case:

  • Complete Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
  • Write a personal statement outlining what happened to you, how you were persecuted and/or why you fear future persecution.
  • Collect all the evidence that you can find to support your case.
  • Include a Country Conditions section to your asylum case.

The I-589 Application

If you fear persecution in your home country due to your race, ethnicity, or tribal affiliation, you must first fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. Next, you should write a thorough personal statement outlining what happened to you, how you were persecuted and/or why you fear future persecution.

You should also explain what group(s) and/or how the government is targeting you. The statement should also explain why you cannot relocate to be safe in another location in the country. If you are applying for asylum based on multiple grounds, it is best to explain why the government and/or a particular group is targeting you. Remember to be thorough in explaining the threats to you.

The Personal Statement

Do no limit yourself to only “race-based asylum,” if there are other factors and characteristics that make you a target for persecution in your home country. It is important to remember that while a personal statement is not a specific requirement to apply for asylum, a good asylum case often has a well-written personal statement included.

Other Supporting Documentation

Once the personal statement is finished, collect all the evidence that you can find to support your case. It is always good to try and find any emails, social media posts, pictures, news items, publications, and any other items that might help to back up your story. An experienced immigration attorney can be particularly useful at this step to help review items of evidence to see if they are useful to your case. It is also important to remember that there is no requirement regarding the number, or amount of, evidence you have to have for your case. Officers also understand that some type of evidence is hard to secure when you are fleeing a country, so there is no specific expectation for evidence. Instead it is best practice to try and find as much evidence as possible to help your case.

Country Conditions Information

In addition to supporting evidence, a Country Conditions section should also be included in your asylum case. This is a section where you include reports, media sources, and/or any other resources that explain the conditions in your home country. These resources should cover country conditions that are pertinent to your claims and case. For instance, if you are stating that you fear persecution because the government attacks your racial group, the include media reports that talk about how your country targets your race. Even if you are from a country where such persecution is well known throughout the world you should still include resources about these conditions. 

Resources For The Country Conditions Section

Possible resources to include in the Country Conditions section include:

  • news articles, 
  • academic reports, 
  • government statistical reports, 
  • assessments from non-profit or third-party groups, 
  • and any other resources you can find. 

These reports and resources should cover Country Conditions that are pertinent to your claims and case. It is also important to include enough reports and resources to adequately show the various conditions in your country that specifically apply to your case. One big report, for instance, is generally not enough to establish country conditions. You want to include one or more items/resources describing the various conditions you report in your case. Keep in mind that there is no specific requirement to have a Country Conditions section in your asylum case; however, your chances of winning your case increase with a strong Country Conditions section in your case.

An asylum immigration attorney would be able to assist and guide you with the various sections of an asylum case and best methods and practices. You should always consult an immigration attorney when applying for asylum.

FAQS For What Is Race-Based Asylum

I don’t have evidence for something in my story should I leave it out?

No. You should always tell your story honestly and completely. Just because you don’t have specific evidence for something does not mean you should not speak about it. Telling the full story is more important. In addition, USCIS and the government knows that it is difficult to secure evidence from a country that you have fled. A decision to approve your case takes into account many factors and not just what evidence you have, so explain your story completely.

I am being targeted because I look like a particular race, but I am not part of that racial group. Can I still claim race-based asylum?

Yes, you are still eligible for asylum based on the racial grounds. If your government, or some uncontrolled group, is persecuting you because they believe something false about your racial, ethnic, or tribal make-up, it is still persecution based on racial grounds. Although the persecution is occurring due to a misperception regarding your race, ethnic or tribal affiliation, the fear of violence or actual violence for those reasons is still real and you are allowed to claim that in your asylum application. 

I have been in the US for several years but now my government has begun to persecute my family and my ethnic group. Can I still apply for asylum after being here for several years?

Yes, you can still apply for asylum despite having been here for more than a year because you have experienced changed country conditions. Although there is a 1-year bar for applying for asylum -- which means that applicants must apply for asylum within 1 year of entering the US – there are exceptions when there are pertinent changed circumstances. This means that you can apply, but you will have to explain and demonstrate how and when circumstances changed making it necessary for you to apply for asylum.