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Important factors for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the United States

Hundreds of thousands of people across the world face persecution in their home country because of their sexuality or gender identity. And for decades, many of those individuals have come to the United States hoping to find a better life. Seeking asylum is just one way someone who fears violence or discrimination can work towards American citizenship.

Today, we discuss the basics of claiming asylum in the U.S. for someone who is transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual.

How LGBTQ individuals can claim asylum

Immigration law in the United States requires asylum seekers to prove that, if sent back to their home country, they will be persecuted based on their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a particular social group

The last criteria, “membership in a particular social group,” has historically been used to aid individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and face persecution in their home country. Proving persecution includes a credibility determination, what many refer to as the “credible fear” interview.

What happens in a credible fear interview?

Asylum officers interview asylum seekers to determine the likelihood that they will face persecution if sent back home. To have “credible fear” means that someone has shown there is a significant possibility they could convince an immigration judge of the dangers they face in their home country. In the past, immigration officers trained in asylum cases handled these interviews. But, new immigration programs may soon shift those duties to border patrol officers.

Immigration law often seems to be in constant flux, making it easy to feel lost. An experienced immigration attorney can help LGBTQ individuals understand their options for immigration and asylum in the U.S.

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