Political changes in Nepal over the past few years have caused many Nepalese nationals to leave Nepal and apply for asylum in the United States. As a result, there are now many established Nepalese communities in the United States, especially in New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Portland, and Saint Paul.
In 2012, 29,484 people were granted asylum in the United States. Most of these people (65.7%) came from five countries, one of which was Nepal. That year, 974 nationals of Nepal were granted asylum in the United States. (See the Office of Immigration Statistics "Refugees and Asylees: 2012" report.)
Nepalese nationals have been seeking asylum in the United States for many years. With political changes in Nepal in recent years, more asylum applicants have been granted. From 2010 to 2012, grants of Nepalese asylum claims increased. Asylum Officers interview many claims from Nepal each week.
The most common type of asylum claim from Nepal is one based on fear of harm from the government. Many applicants claim that they have suffered past persecution or fear future persecution on account of their political opinion. Nepal continues to struggle as a new democracy, and the State Department "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013" states that the Nepalese government continues to commit unlawful arrests and killings. The country still has no permanent constitution.
The most common reason for denying a Nepalese asylum claim continues to be credibility. If an officer or judge does not believe your story, you will not be granted asylum.
To be granted asylum, your testimony must be detailed, consistent, and plausible. You must also provide any supporting documents that are reasonably available to you. For example, if you belong to a political organization, you should be able to submit a membership card or letter from the organization. If you cannot submit this, be prepared to explain why you could not do so.
You also must convince the asylum officer or immigration judge that you have suffered persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future. If the persecutor is not the government, you must convince a judge or officer that the Nepalese government cannot or will not protect you.
Since the number of asylum applications from Nepalese nationals has been rising, asylum officers and immigration judges should be increasingly familiar with the conditions in Nepal. If your story is one that many people from your country share, it is important that you are as specific as possible on your application for asylum (Form I-589) and that you provide as much supporting documentation as possible.
It’s a good idea to highlight the parts of your story that are unique to you so that you differentiate yourself from the other Nepalese asylum applicants. For example, if you come from a long line of political activists and you were falsely arrested because of your political opinion, you should submit evidence of your family’s political activity.
It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when putting together your asylum claim.