Can I Apply for Asylum in the U.S. If I'm From Ukraine?

Persecution of the LGBT community and Crimean Tatars are the most likely bases for asylum claims from Ukraine.

Ukraine's complex political and human rights situation has led to greater numbers of Ukrainians seeking U.S. asylum in recent years. Here you can read more about what types of claims for U.S asylum have been successful in recent years.

Do Many People Gain Asylum From Ukraine?

Despite ongoing political upheaval, Ukraine has never been one of the top nations of U.S. asylum seekers. In 2015,  only 145 Ukrainian nationals  were granted U.S. asylum by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum offices. In the immigration courts where Ukrainians requested asylum in deportation proceedings,  only 39 Ukrainian nationals were granted asylum  out of 112 applications submitted, a grant rate of 35%.

What Type of Asylum Claims Are Typical From Ukraine?

The complexity of Ukraine's current human rights situation—and therefore its citizens' likely prospects to receive asylum in the U.S.—means it is difficult to predict how successful an asylum claim could be.

The nongovernmental organization  Freedom House has rated Ukraine  as only "partly free." Many Ukrainians have filed for political asylum in the aftermath of the March 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. During this time, thousands of Crimean Tatars left home after the annexation. Many Tatars fled to other cities in Ukraine after being attacked or threatened by Russians or pro-Russian aggressors. In its country report in 2015, the U.S. State Department  acknowledged  widespread human rights abuses by Russian occupiers in that region.

Additionally, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Ukraine continue to be targeted and widespread societal intolerance and stigmatization continues to occur.

Important to the success of an asylum claim is the evidence that the Ukrainian government does not protect political dissidents and members of the LGBT community from persecution.

What Are Common Reasons for Denial of Asylum Claims From Ukraine?

LGBT applicants must prove that they are members of a particular social group, defined as a members of the LGBT community in the Ukraine. To that end, there are situations in which immigration judges or asylum officers ask personal questions to probe the veracity of the claim that the applicant is not heterosexual. All asylum applicants must present a credible claim—that is a claim that is detailed, consistent, and plausible. If the Immigration Judge (IJ) or asylum officer does not believe you belong to the  social group, he or she may not grant asylum.

Similarly, Crimean Tatars and political dissidents must demonstrate their identity and the reasons why they are targeted by the Ukrainian government or why the government is unable to protect them. Additionally, the judge or officer must be convinced that the applicant cannot safely relocate within Ukraine.

What Can Ukrainians Do to Increase Their Chances of a Successful Asylum Claim?

If you are filing a claim based on your membership in the LGBT community, it is important to convince the IJ or asylum officer that you are a member of that social group. Submit any evidence including membership cards for LGBT community centers. Testify in detail about any gay bars or clubs you frequent, including addresses and names and descriptions, and describe any same-sex relationships that you have had.

Crimean Tatars and political dissidents should detail any persecution experienced or feared, including discriminatory laws, violence, harassment, imprisonment, and police and military brutality. If you have publicly protested or published anti-government articles, be sure to include that information in your asylum application.

As with any asylum claim, applicants should submit plenty of  evidence to document  the country conditions and evidence of past persecution on that basis.

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