To be granted asylum, a person must demonstrate that he or she is a "refugee," that he or she is not barred from asylum for any of the reasons listed in our immigration laws, and that the decision-maker should grant asylum as a matter of discretion.
A person who meets the refugee definition may be granted asylum in the United States if they are not barred from asylum for any of the reasons listed in section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and if the adjudicator decides that they should be granted asylum as a matter of discretion. Some people who need asylum will have their cases decided at the Asylum Office and others will have their cases decided at the Immigration Court. The standard for asylum is the same in both places.
Withholding of Removal
To be granted withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the INA, a person must demonstrate that if returned to the country of origin he or she is more likely than not to be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. There is no discretionary element here.
U.N. Convention Against Torture
The government of the United States has promised that it will not send anyone back to a country where he or she is likely to be tortured and so an immigration judge will consider eligibility for protection under the Torture Convention even if the asylum-seeker does not specifically request it. To be granted withholding of removal under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, a person must demonstrate that if returned to the country of origin he or she is more likely than not to be tortured. There is also no discretionary element here.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The U.S. government may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in that country which temporarily prevent its citizens from returning safely, or when the country is unable to handle the return of its citizens, due to various short-term conditions, including ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or an epidemic.
A person who is granted TPS may not be detained or removed from the United States, can work legally in this country, and may be granted a travel document to leave the U.S. and return. While TPS is a temporary benefit and does not lead to lawful permanent residence or any kind of permanent immigration status, holders of TPS may also apply for asylum or any other form of more lasting immigration status if eligible for those forms of relief.