What is Humanitarian-Based Immigration Relief?
There are many types of immigration relief based on humanitarian principles. Humanitarian based relief provides protection to those in need of aide from natural disasters, those who suffer persecution at the hands of a foreign government, individuals displaced by civil war & many other circumstances. While there are refugee programs established to help individuals who currently reside abroad, the information provided here is focused on humanitarian immigration relief that is available to immigrants who are present in the United States.
Asylum and Withholding of Removal
To be eligible for asylum, you must meet the definition of refugee according the the immigration laws of the United States. Refugee is defined as "any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." There are two ways to petition for asylum. First, you can petition for affirmative asylum within one year of your arrival in the United States or the expiration of your legal status. Second, you can file for defensive asylum in a deportation case. In an affirmative asylum case, you can first prosecute your case before the asylum office, whereas in a defensive case, your case will be heard by an immigration court.
Convention Against Torture
The United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) is an international human rights treaty that precludes signatories from perpetrating torture or sending an individual to a country where they are likely to be tortured. The legal standard for obtaining CAT is higher than for asylum. You must prove that it more likely than not that you will be tortured if sent to your home country, although you do not need to prove that the torture would be on account of a protected characteristic. There are advantages to a CAT petition. If you meet the legal standard relief is mandatory, and bars that could prevent you from obtaining asylum will not bar a CAT claim. You can file for CAT at the same time that you apply for asylum, either with USCIS in an affirmative petition or in immigration court. While a successful CAT claim will allow you to stay in the United States, it will not lead to permanent resident status.