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Convention Against Torture (CAT) Immigration Lawyer Serving Washington, DC and Northern Virginia

If you are a foreign national who fears persecution in your country of origin, you may be able to seek relief through the Convention Against Torture. It is important to note that torture is only found when there is evidence indicating you face a real possibility of cruel punishment that would cause you severe pain and/or suffering. 


If you are concerned about obtaining relief under the Convention Against Torture, contact Palacio Law today. Edwin Palacio is a skilled immigration lawyer in DC and Northern Virginia who can make sure all appropriate steps are taken to secure the greatest relief available to you under the Convention Against Torture based on your specific situation.

Overview of the Convention Against Torture


Unlike other forms of relief that may be available to you in DC, such as asylum or withholding of removal, eligibility is fairly expansive under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). For example, you may be able to seek relief under the CAT, even if you have a felony conviction, so long as you fear being tortured in your home country. Unlike other legal options, the torture does not need to be based on your personal identity, such as your race, nationality, religion, social group, or political opinion. Instead, there are two kinds of protections that can be sought, and both are predicated on your legitimate fear of torture.

CAT Protection No. 1 - Withholding of Removal


Withholding of removal is one type of protection you can receive under CAT. When you obtain this kind of protection, it prohibits the federal government from removing you to a country where your freedom or life would be threatened because of your nationality, political opinion, religion, race, or membership in a specific social group.


Please be advised that you cannot obtain this relief under CAT if you have committed certain crimes or you are classified as a terrorist by the Department of Homeland Security.

CAT Protection No. 2 - Deferral of Removal


The other type of protection available under the CAT is deferral of removal. This is a temporary type of protection. Basically, your protection will be terminated if returning to your home country would not likely result in torture. Unlike with the other kind of relief, if you’re a threat to the community, you can be detained by the Department of Homeland Security.

Limited Benefits Under the CAT


It is important to understand that both types of relief described above provide relatively limited benefits. For example, while you cannot be removed to your home country, you could be removed to a different country where you would not be tortured. Also, unlike relief under other laws, you will not be able to adjust your status to legal permanent status. Though, you can be authorized to work when you’ve been granted withholding of removal or you can get a work permit when you’ve been granted deferral of removal and you are released from custody.

Understanding What is Considered Torture


According to the provisions of the CAT, torture is defined as any act by which: 


  1. serious suffering or pain occurred;

  2. is intentionally inflicted;

  3. by a public official or person acting in that capacity; 

  4. as punishment, in order to get information or a confession, in order to coerce and intimidate, or because of discrimination. 


Torture is considered more severe than simply degrading treatment and it doesn’t include indefinite detention.


Under the CAT, your DC immigration attorney will need to present evidence to an immigration judge that it is more likely than not you would be tortured in your home country. The term “more likely than not” is a high standard, but bear in mind that the immigration judge has no discretion once your legal counsel makes this showing. 


Relief can be sought when there are removal proceedings underway or when the federal government is trying to reinstate a prior removal order or asks that you be removed because you are not a citizen, and you were convicted of an aggravated felony.

Navigating the Convention Against Torture process can be challenging on your own. Because this process involves high stakes, it is extremely important to retain the services of Edwin Palacio, a skilled immigration lawyer in DC and Northern Virginia. Edwin will go to work immediately on your behalf to help ensure your asylum petition is granted.

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