Convention Against Torture
Aliens currently residing in the United States who fear torture upon returning to their country of origin can apply for protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (also known as Convention Against Torture, or CAT). This treaty prohibits the U.S. government from returning you to a country where you have legitimate grounds to believe you may be tortured. One of the biggest advantages of CAT is that if you are eligible for relief, the U.S. is required to grant it to you.
In addition, none of the bars that may prevent you from obtaining asylum (such as having assisted in the persecution of others, being a potential threat to U.S. security, or being resettled elsewhere) apply to CAT. However, being granted relief does not necessarily mean you will stay in the U.S. If there is another safe country willing to accept you, you may be sent there instead. Likewise, if the threat of torture subsides in the future and the Department of Homeland Security assesses that it is safe for you to return, an immigration judge may rule that you need to return to your country of origin.
Requirements and Applying for CAT
The standards for CAT are higher than those for asylum or withholding of removal, as the applicant must be in danger of torture, not just persecution. To be considered eligible for relief under Convention Against Torture, you must be able to show that it is “more likely than not” that you will be subjected to extreme mental or physical pain inflicted by or with permission of a government official. Evidence for your case must be submitted, such as news articles or reports that indicate a high likelihood you will be tortured upon your return. You may have to provide information on any past torture you or your family have suffered in your home country or how your government has tortured others. This evidence will be taken into consideration by an immigration judge, who will decide if it is relevant to your current circumstances.
There is no specific application for Convention Against Torture; rather, applicants can apply for it at the same time they apply for asylum with Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. Applicants simply have to mark the appropriate boxes on the form and supply the necessary supporting documents. If you applied for asylum and did NOT apply for CAT protection at the time, you can add a request for relief later by adding supplementary documents to your asylum application.
Convention Against Torture Immigration Lawyer
If the information above sounds a lot like your current situation, it is recommended that you consult with an immigration lawyer as you proceed. Your safety is important, and if you believe it is in jeopardy, then your application for relief must be completed correctly. An immigration attorney can help you gather your supplementary documents and walk you through the procedures with an immigration court. This process can be overwhelming and scary if you fear returning to your home country, so working with an experienced professional can give you some peace of mind.
The attorneys at Salmón-Haas can help you apply for relief through Convention Against Torture. Call us today at 210-734-8472 for a free, confidential consultation.