Can I get asylum if I could live safely somewhere else in my country?

If there's a safe place within an asylum applicant's country to move to, the U.S. government may deny asylum protection.

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Question

I am an Indonesian citizen of Chinese ethnicity from Jakarta. I have suffered persecution in my country, having experienced many incidents of physical abuse at the hands of native Indonesians as well as discrimination by the government. Can I apply for asylum even though I have never lived anywhere else in Indonesia?

Answer

If you can relocate and live safely within Indonesia you will not be able to demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of persecution and you will not be granted asylum in the United States.

If you have suffered persecution in the past, the U.S. government will try to prove that you can avoid future persecution by relocating within your country. The U.S. government will also have to prove that it is reasonable for you to do so.

In your case, since there is a sizable Chinese population in Sulawesi as well as Jakarta, the government may suggest that you could move to Sulawesi and live safely.

You can proactively provide evidence that it is not reasonable for you to relocate anywhere in Indonesia. For example, could you live safely in Sulawesi if you do not have family ties there? Could you get a job?

If you were persecuted by the State (the Indonesian government), the persecution is presumed to be countrywide. In other words, if your claim is that you have spent a lifetime of discrimination at the hands of the government and that the discrimination amounts to persecution, you could successfully argue that the persecution exists throughout the islands of Indonesia.

Always consider consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer before making your asylum claim. And for more information on asylum eligibility and procedures, see the "Asylum & Refugee Status" page of Nolo's website.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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