Can I Apply for U.S. Asylum If I'm From Sudan?

Learn about the common types of claims made by citizens who fled Sudan, and their likelihood of success.

Sudan’s history is bathed in conflict and civil war; conditions that can, depending on individual circumstances, lead to its citizens seeking and gaining  asylum  in the United States. In the United States we are most familiar with the second civil war between the Muslim North and the Christian South, which took place between 1983 and 2005. This conflict displaced more than 2.5 million people. More than 20,000 orphaned boys between the ages of 7 and 17 walked from Sudan to safety. The world called them the “Lost Boys of Sudan” as they first arrived in refugee camps and then resettled in various countries.

We are also familiar with the conflict in Darfur, which began in 2003, and which was highlighted by multiple actors and musicians including Mia Farrow, George Clooney, and Bono.

On September 20, 2011, South Sudan became an independent country and violence escalated between Sudan and South Sudan.

The Darfur region continues to be unstable in 2014 and Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, remains unsafe, especially for students and pro democracy activists, who are often shot and killed by police. (See “Sudan: Police Fire Tear Gas After Funeral in Khartoum,” by Isma’il Kushkush,  The New York Times, March 13, 2014.)

Do Many People Gain Asylum From Sudan?

Most Sudanese enter the U.S. as refugees, rather than coming to the U.S. before applying for asylum. According to the  Sudan Tribune  article, “Sudanese refugee admission to US lowest in 10 years but non-immigration visas at its highest” (Sept 24, 2012), a total of 3,500 Sudanese refugees were, according to Department of Homeland Security Statistics, admitted to the U.S. at the beginning of the Darfur conflict. These statistics also indicated that 3,585 Sudanese entered the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa in 2011.

Once in the United States, Sudanese asylum applicants who have been persecuted or fear persecution should easily win asylum.

What Type of Asylum Claims Are Typical From Sudan?

Claims from Sudan are typically related to political opinion, religion, or nationality. Student activists and diplomats from Khartoum typically ask for protection from government persecution. Sudanese from the Darfur region have in most cases been persecuted on account of their religion or ethnicity.

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

Sudanese who are in the United States have in many cases already been here for a while. It is important to remember that asylum applications must be filed within one year of the most recent entry into the United States unless the applicant is eligible for an  exception.

Sudanese in the United States have been eligible for Temporary Protected Status since 1997. Having TPS does not mean you cannot apply for asylum. In fact, TPS can provide an extraordinary-circumstance exception to the one-year filing deadline rule if you have had TPS and subsequently decide to apply for asylum.

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

Submit all relevant documents you can come up with to support your claim, including any documents identifying your citizenship and residence.  See “Preparing Persuasive Documents for Your Asylum Application” for help with this.

Remember to present your claim credibly, meaning in detail and without any discrepancies that you cannot explain.Nolo’s article on “How to Increase Your Credibility When Applying For Asylum” will help with this.

If you have been in a refugee camp, submit your food card or any other document identifying you as a refugee. If you don’t have any documents proving your stay in a refugee camp, do not purchase and submit a fraudulent one. It is never a good idea to submit fraudulent documents, not even if you believe it will help your case. Judges and officers often submit documents to forensics experts and will learn that the document is not real. Once discovered, the judge or officer will likely find you to be not credible. You will then have a very difficult time winning asylum.

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