Withholding of Removal

Withholding of removal (“WOR”) is a form of relief from removal similar to asylum in that it provides protection for persons fleeing persecution. Like asylum, there must be a threat to life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

However, WOR has a higher standard of proof than asylum. Whereas asylum applicants must prove a “well-founded fear” of persecution, applicants for WOR must prove that they face a threat to life or freedom by a “clear probability” standard.


1. The “clear probability” standard

This means that it is “more likely than not” that the person will be subject to harm. It is a more difficult standard to meet than the “well-founded fear” standard. There must be better than a 50% chance of threat to the individual’s well-being.


2. Differences from asylum

Unlike asylum, a grant of WOR does NOT provide successful applicants with the following benefits:

  1. WOR does not lead to lawful permanent resident status (green card holder);
  2. WOR does not give the individual the possibility of travel outside the U.S.;
  3. WOR does not grant benefits to spouses or children of applicants.


3. Mandatory

WOR is a mandatory form of relief. Whereas asylum is discretionary, which means that it will only be granted upon a finding that the applicant is deserving, WOR is mandatory, which means that it MUST be granted if eligibility is proven.