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An individual will be found to have a reasonable fear of persecution if he or she credibly establishes that there is a reasonable possibility he or she would be persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The legal standard is the same standard used to establish a well-founded fear of persecution in the asylum context.

In contrast to an asylum adjudication, a finding of reasonable fear of persecution cannot be based on past persecution alone, in the absence of a reasonable possibility of future persecution.  A reasonable fear of persecution may be found only if there is a reasonable possibility the applicant will be persecuted in the future, regardless of the severity of the past persecution.  This is because withholding of removal is accorded only to provide protection against future persecution and may not be granted without a likelihood of future persecution.  However, a finding of past persecution raises the presumption that the applicant’s fear of future persecution is reasonable.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 
09/26/2008