Sometimes, a person who would not ordinarily qualify for asylum can still be granted asylum for humanitarian reasons. There are two types of situations in which a person can be granted humanitarian asylum: 1) when a person has suffered severe past persecution, or 2) if a person has a reasonable fear of other serious harm upon returning to his or her home country.
Severe Past Persecution
In order qualify for humanitarian asylum in the U.S.A. due to severe past persecution, there must be compelling reasons why a person is unable to return home despite not having a reasonable fear of future persecution. A strong case of humanitarian asylum involves past persecution that caused severe harm and long lasting effects. This is considered on a case by case basis, so consulting with an experienced immigration attorney would be helpful.
A few examples of people who were granted humanitarian asylum are: a mother and daughter who were suffering continuing side effects due to past female genital mutilation; a person who witnessed his parents’ murder and sister’s kidnapping; and a person who was tortured and forced to do hard labor for years. Courts, however, have stressed that humanitarian asylum is reserved only for the most rare and atrocious cases – even people who have been tortured have been denied humanitarian asylum.
Other Serious Harm
A person can be granted humanitarian asylum if there is a reasonable possibility that he or she may suffer some other form of harm upon returning to his or her home country. This harm does not have to be on account of one’s race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, but the severity of the harm must be equal to persecution. In considering this harm, a court will look at factors like civil strife, extreme economic hardship, and any other difficulties an asylum applicant may face in returning to his or her home country.