You may seek religious asylum in the United States as religion is one of the grounds for applying for asylum in the United States. In case you fear that you will be punished or harmed in your country for believing or not believing in any God (or gods), then you qualify for religious asylum. For example, if you are from Iran and you changed your religion from Islam to Baha’i, you may apply for religious asylum.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. laws in general do not define what is a religion. Religion is a very broad term that includes not only Islam, Christianity, or Judaism, but also many other less familiar or widespread beliefs. What this means is that you may not belong to one of the most popular religions to qualify for religious asylum. If you think that you will be persecuted or you already were persecuted for your beliefs, then moving to the United States can be your option to find shelter.
Receiving Asylum based on Religion in the United States
Should you apply for religious asylum in the U.S., you must be prepared for an interview with an asylum officer or for a hearing with the Immigration Judge. You must gather enough documentation to prove that you were or will be harmed for your beliefs in your home country.
During the interview, USCIS will want to understand if you know the practices that are applied in your religion. As for evidence, you must provide clear documentation such as photos, videos, or statements of religion experts to prove that your religion was the ground for your punishment in your country. You will have to tell USCIS any details related to your potential or inflicted persecution, such as:
- who may prosecute you for your beliefs;
- how that person or group of people may torture you;
- what your living conditions were when you were persecuted, for example, if you lived in filth;
- how you were physically or mentally harmed; and others.
To qualify for religious asylum, you must also meet the basic requirements as required by U.S. immigration laws. You may need help from an immigration attorney or lawyer who will verify your data and acknowledge if you can apply for religious asylum. We strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer to increase your chances of receiving asylum in the United States on the ground of religion.