What relief is available under the Convention Against Torture (CAT)?
Author: Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova
In some instances, an individual who does not qualify for asylum may meet the threshold requirements to qualify for relief under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). As declared in Article 3 of CAT, countries do not want to remove an individual to a country where he or she will be subjected to torture. To be eligible for relief under Article 3 of CAT, the applicant must establish that he will more likely than not suffer torture if returned to his country of origin. The “more likely than not” threshold is a lower burden than the “well-founded fear” of persecution necessary to seek asylum. In addition, CAT applicants do not have to fall within one of the five protected groups necessary for asylum. Finally, CAT may be granted to criminals and other individuals who do not qualify for other forms of relief based on their past actions.
Under Article 1 of CAT “torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person . . . for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.” In Matter of J-E-, the Attorney General set forth a five part test for determining whether an act of mistreatment rises to the level of “torture.” The act must: “(1) cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering; (2) be intentionally inflicted; (3) be inflicted with a proscribed purpose; (4) be inflicted by, or at the instigation of, or with the acquiescence or consent of a public official who has custody or physical control of the victim; and (5) not arise from lawful sanctions.”
So what kind of relief does CAT provide? If eligible for CAT, an individual can be granted withholding of removal or deferral of removal. Once granted, withholding of removal can only be terminated if the Department of Homeland Security can prove that the individual is not likely to be tortured in his or her home country. Deferral of removal can be terminated more easily since the United States government only needs to receive assurances that the individual will not be tortured if returned to his or her home country. Although eligible CAT recipients can apply to USCIS for work authorization, they are not considered lawful permanent residents and do not have authorization to bring family members to the United States.
If facing deportation and removal issues, seek the help of a skilled New York asylum lawyer as soon as possible.