What is a “particular social group” for asylum?

In order to obtain asylum in the U.S., foreigners must show fear of harm directly related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a “particular social group”.

What is a “particular social group” is interpreted differently by courts in different parts of the U.S. According to the Ninth Circuits Court of Appeals (where Arizona belongs), it is a particular social group as one in which the members are united by a voluntary association OR by an innate characteristic that is so fundamental to the identities or consciences of its members, that members either cannot or should not be required to change it (e.g., young women in Guatemala subject to femicide).

Here are some examples of “particular social groups”: former gang members or gang violence recipients (e.g., a former member of MS-13), family members (e.g., mother who fears that her minor daughter would be subject to FGM), domestic violence victims (e.g., Honduran woman unable to leave her relationship), people with mental illness or physical disability (e.g., persons with bipolar disorder who exhibit erratic behavior), witnesses (e.g., who publicly provide assistance to law enforcement against major Salvadoran gangs), landowners (e.g., Colombian landowners who refused to cooperate with FARC).

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.  We simplified the law to provide general information about one aspect of asylum laws. If you would like to discuss whether you qualify for an asylum, schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer in Phoenix at www.calendly.com/irena-3 today or call our office at 480-425-2009! We look forward to talking with you!