Withholding of removal is in some ways similar to asylum, but it has a higher standard. To qualify for withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. section 1231(b)(3), the non-citizen must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that he/she would be subject to persecution based on race, religious beliefs, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Unlike with asylum, an immigrant who is granted relief under withholding of removal is only given a right not to be removed to a specific country. Unlike asylees, non-citizens who are granted withholding of removal do not have the right to apply for a green card. They actually have a final order of removal against them, so if they travel outside the U.S., they will not be allowed to return.

Generally, when a person applies for asylum, he or she also applies for withholding of removal. There are times when the Immigration Judge determines that a person is not eligible for asylum because the one-year filing deadline was missed, but because there is no one-year deadline for withholding, considers the applicant for withholding.

If an applicant has been convicted of a particularly serious crime, he or she will not be eligible for withholding and can only apply for relief under the Convention Against Torture.

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