If you are a Syrian citizen living in the United States., the first thing to keep in mind is that, if you were in the U.S. on March 29, 2012 you can apply for something called Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows people from certain countries to maintain legal status and work in the United States during times of war or natural disaster. TPS will continue for as long as the US government believes it is too dangerous to return. TPS does not allow a person to remain in the United States permanently, so a Syrian citizen who wants to remain in the US permanently needs to find another way.
Due to the current civil war in Syria, there has been a huge increase in the number of Syrians seeking asylum around the world. Most are in Europe, where Syrians have had varying degrees of success in getting protection. In the United States, Syrians must meet the standard requirements in order to meet asylum. That is, they must be in (or trying to enter) the United States, and they must be able to show that they have a fear of future persecution on account of their race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a social group. Since most of the violence is political related, most Syrian asylum seekers have a fear of persecution on account of their political opinion. One thing Syrian asylum seekers need to remember is that one cannot be granted asylum just because it is dangerous to return, one must also be able to show that the fear of persecution is directly related to a political opinion, or at least a political opinion that the government believes one has.
For those that are not directly affected by the ongoing violence, the government has committed other human rights abuses that could amount to persecution, such as arbitrary arrest and denial of free speech and free assembly.
The Kurdish ethnic minority has faced significant discrimination; if that discrimination was severe enough to be considered persecution, a Syrian Kurd may be able to win asylum as a member of a particular social group.
Certain women may also qualify as a particular social group for asylum purposes, considering the amount of repression many women face in Syria. Rape is rarely prosecuted. Domestic violence is not even specifically illegal, and many women who tried to report it to the police were ignored. Honor crimes are not specifically illegal, and many families who commit them against women received reduced sentences. Nongovernmental organizations estimate that there are about 300-400 honor killings of women in a given year.
Between the ongoing civil war and societal discrimination of Kurds and women, there are many reasons why someone from Syria would be afraid to return to or remain in the country. If you are Syrian and are afraid of being there, New York Human Rights Committee may be able to help you. Call us at +1 (800) 560-1768 today. We are available 24/7.