Political strife occurs all over the world, and it can make those targeted by it feel unsafe on a profound level. If you’ve been subject to political persecution, or you have what the law terms “a well-founded fear of persecution,” because of your perceived political opinion, then there may be a path open to you in the form of asylum or refugee status in the United States.

The above description is chosen carefully: you may be a victim of persecution for political opinions you hold or that others perceive you to hold. Your persecutor may well be harming you for an opinion you don’t even hold, but that the persecutor believes you to hold. United States law accounts for both of these possibilities.

This blog will explain some ways in which United States law acknowledges persecution to occur. Keep reading to learn how a New York City immigration attorney can help you find relief from the intense struggles you’ve been experiencing through asylum or refugee status in the United States.

How Do Others Know What My Political Opinion Is?

Your “political opinions” can cover a wide range of topics about your country, your government, your society, and more besides. You might have expressed your political opinion directly: by how you vote, by which political party you belong to, through your union membership, among other ways.

But it isn’t necessary to directly state your political opinion to be persecuted for it. Sometimes, people may correctly guess your political opinion from how you act, your friends and associations, or other personal characteristics. Other times, commonly in fact, people may wrongly assume your political opinions. Persecution for perceived political opinion can be grounds for purposes of asylum and refugee status, just as much as persecution for your actual political opinions.

People might impute political opinions to you based on:

  • What music you listen to or produce
  • What books you read or write
  • Personal characteristics like your race or nationality
  • Who your neighbors are
  • Any habit that the regime under which you live believes marks you as a dissident

How Can I Prove I Am Facing Persecution for My Perceived Political Opinion?

Persecution is defined as serious threats or actual infliction of physical, psychological, and economic harm by your own government or by groups your government doesn’t want or isn’t able to control. To prove that you’ve experienced persecution, you’ll need to show a link between your persecution and what the persecutor believes.

That isn’t very easy to do, given that persecutors most often don’t publicly announce why they harm who they harm. Sometimes they do make their biases known, but when they don’t, your lawyer should try to demonstrate how their actions fit within a known pattern of persecution against people in similar situations to yourself in your home country.

This kind of proof is especially important when you seek asylum or refugee status for a feared persecution that you believe could happen in the future, instead of persecution already done against you, as immigration officials like officers and judges may think your fears are too speculative.