Development of Administrative and Judicial Precedents on "Economic Persecution"



In order to qualify for asylum status in the United States, an alien must establish that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution, or suffered past persecution, in his or her country of nationality (or country if last habitual residence if he or she lacks nationality) on account of one of five protected grounds. In order to qualify for statutory withholding of removal, an alien must establish that it is more likely than not that he or she would suffer persecution in his or her home country on account of one of the five protected grounds.

In certain cases, “economic deprivation” may rise to a level as to constitute “persecution” for purpose of asylum and/or withholding of removal. Under the current rules, the economic deprivation must be “severe.” In this article, we will examine how the law on “economic deprivation” as “persecution” has evolved over time, and where the rules stand today. To do so, we will examine the development of judicial and administrative case-law on the subject going back to the 1960s through the Board of Immigration Appeal's definitive decision on the issue in Matter of T-Z-, 24 I&N Dec. 163 (BIA 2007) [PDF version]. After reading this article, please see our comprehensive companion article wherein we provide summaries of important decisions on the issue from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the various circuit courts [see article].

Economic Deprivation

For those who want to skip to the current rules set forth by the Board in Matter of T-Z-, please refer to the part of the article beginning here [see section].

To learn about asylum and refugee protection more generally, please see our selection of articles on the subject [see category]. Please see our introductory article to statutory withholding of removal to learn more about that benefit [see article].

Statutory Background

In order to qualify for asylum, section 208(b)(1) of the INA requires that an alien meet the statutory definition of “refugee.” Under section 101(a)(42)(A) of the INA, a “refugee” is an alien who is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of his or her country of nationality or, if he or she lacks nationality, country of last habituation residence, due to either persecution or a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Under section 101(a)(42)(B), an alien who is forced to abort a pregnancy, undergo an involuntary sterilization, or who is persecuted for failure to undergo such a procedure shall be considered to have been persecuted on the basis of “political opinion.” This extends to individuals who have a well-founded fear of being forced to undergo such a procedure or of being persecuted for resisting such procedures.

Under 8 C.F.R. 208.13(b)(1), the asylum applicant bears the burden of proving that he or she is a “refugee” as defined in section 101(a)(42)(A). If he or she establishes past persecution, there is a rebuttable presumption that the fear of persecution is “well-founded.” If the applicant does not establish past persecution, he or she must establish that the fear of future persecution is “well-founded.” Please see our full articles to learn about bars to applying for asylum [see article] and withholding and bars to being granted asylum [see article] and withholding [see article].

Similar rules for those seeking withholding of removal are found at 8 C.F.R. 1208.13. Under section 241(b)(3)(A) of the INA, an alien may not be removed to a country if the Attorney General determines that “the alien's life or freedom would be threatened in that country on account of the alien's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Unlike asylum, however, withholding of removal cannot be granted unless the applicant establishes a fear of future persecution.

The applicant for withholding of removal bears a higher burden of proof for establishing eligibility than does the applicant for asylum. 8 C.F.R. 1208.16(b) makes clear that the burden rests with the applicant for withholding of removal. If the applicant establishes past persecution on a protected ground, there is a rebuttable presumption that the applicant faces future persecution; however, the government may rebut the presumption by a preponderance of the evidence. If the applicant does not establish past persecution, he or she must establish that it is “more likely than not” that his or her life or freedom would be threatened on a protected ground. If the applicant sustains this burden and is not otherwise barred [see article] from withholding of removal relief, withholding of removal must be granted.

What Does “Economic Deprivation” Refer to in the Asylum/Withholding Context?

“Economic deprivation” is not, in and of itself, a ground for asylum or withholding. Instead, provided that it rises to a sufficient level, “economic deprivation” may constitute “persecution.” However, for purposes of an asylum or withholding application, the economic deprivation constituting the persecution must be based on one of the five protected grounds. Accordingly, in order for a petition for either asylum or withholding based on a claim of economic deprivation to prevail, it must be (1) based on the five protected grounds and (2) of sufficient severity to constitute “persecution.”

Historical Background of “Economic Deprivation” in the Asylum/Withholding of Deportation Context

In the 1960s and 1970s, many cases involving claims that “economic deprivation” arose in the context of the old section 243(h) of the INA, which provided for the withholding of deportation (similar in concept to the current withholding of removal statute). The version of section 243(h) in effect prior to 1965 had required that an applicant for withholding of deportation establish that he or she would suffer “physical persecution” on a protected ground if he or she were to be deported. The “physical” requirement distinguished the pre-1965 version of old section 243(h) from the subsequent statutes for withholding of removal and asylum.

The term “physical persecution” raised the question of whether an individual could ever rely upon “economic deprivation” to establish eligibility under that version of section 243(h). On May 29, 1961, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that “economic deprivation” could satisfy the “physical persecution” requirement of the old section 243(h) in Dunat v. Hurney, 297 F.2d 744 (3d Cir. 1961) [PDF version]. The Third Circuit held that the Government had read the phrase “physical persecution” too narrowly by excluding “economic deprivation,” finding that “[t]he statute does not concern itself with the manner in which physical persecution is inflicted, so long as that is the net effect of the forces and circumstances … impose[d].” Id. at 246. The Court added that “[t]he denial of an opportunity to earn a livelihood in a country such as the one involved here is the equivalent of a sentence to death by means of slow starvation and none the less final because it is gradual.” On May 23, 1962, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with the ruling in Dunat in Soric v. Flagg, 303 F.2d 289 (7th Cir. 1962) [PDF version]. Although the Seventh Circuit denied withholding in Soric, it noted that “[t]he government agrees that economic sanctions so severe as to deprive a person of all means of earning a livelihood may amount to physical persecution.” Id. at 290. Furthermore, it concluded by finding no inconsistency with its holding and the decision in Dunat, although Dunat set a high bar for establishing economic persecution, requiring the total “denial of an opportunity to earn a livelihood.” . Id.

In Matter of Eusaph, 10 I&N Dec. 453 (BIA 1964) [PDF version], the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognized the rulings in Dunat and Soric, stating that “[i]t has also been judicially determined that economic proscription so severe as to deprive a person of all means of earning a livelihood may amount to physical persecution.” 10 I&N Dec. at 454. However, in Eusaph, the Board found that the facts presented did not fall within the scope of Dunat and Soric. 10 I&N Dec. at 455. The Board cited to Matter of Dunat in footnotes in Matter of Vardjan, 10 I&N Dec. 567, 575 n.12 (BIA 1964) [PDF version], and Matter of Bufalino, 11 I&N Dec. 351, 362 n.11 (BIA 1965) [PDF version]. Even after the removal of the word “physical,” the Board relied on the Dunat standard. In Matter of Nagy, 11 I&N Dec. 888, 889 (BIA 1966) [PDF version], the Board found that an applicant for old section 243(h) relief had failed to establish “complete deprivation of economic opportunity within the scope of the Dunat case.”

On January 29, 1969, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed the amended version of the former section 243(h) in Kovac v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 407 F.2d 102 (9th Cir. 1969) [PDF version]. The Court explained that section 243(h) was amended on October 3, 1965, Pub.L. 89-236 sec. 11(f), 79 Stat. 918, to remove the word “physical” from the provision defining “persecution.” The Ninth Circuit then found that the Board had erred in applying the evidentiary standards set forth in Dunat and Soric relating to economic hardship in light of the softening of the statutory requirements for section 243(h) effected by the removal of the word “physical.” Id. at 107. The Ninth Circuit set forth a new standard for that version of section 203(h), holding that “a probability of deliberate imposition of substantial economic disadvantage upon an alien for reasons of race, religion, or political opinion is sufficient to confer upon the Attorney General the discretion to withhold deportation.” (Emphasis added.) Id. This “deliberate imposition substantial economic disadvantage” standard was thus lower than the standard adopted by the Board and the Third and Seventh Circuits prior to 1965, which had required that the applicant establish that he or she would be “deprive[d] … of all means of earning a livelihood.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found Kovac persuasive in its June 5, 1970 decision in Berdo v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 432 F.2d 824 (6th Cir. 1970) [PDF version]. Here, the Sixth Circuit adopted the new Kovac standard and found that the petitioner in the cause had established that, as a defector from Hungary, he would have been “subjected to a deliberate imposition of substantial economic disadvantage” if he were forced to return to that country.

On September 8, 1983, the BIA issued a published decision in Matter of Laipenieks, 18 I&N Dec. 433 (BIA 1983) [PDF version]. In Matter of Laipenieks, the Board cited to a 1978, U.S. House Report, H.R.Rep. No. 95-1452, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 3, reprinted in 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad. News 4700, 4704, which summarized the then-current case law on persecution (report accompanied Pub.L. 95-549, 92 Stat. 2065 “Holtzman Amendment”). The passage stated:

“Generally … case law has described persecution as the infliction of suffering or harm, under government sanction, upon persons who differ in a way regarded as offensive … in a manner condemned by civilized governments. The harm or suffering need not [only] be physical, but may take other forms, such as the deliberate imposition of severe economic disadvantage or the deprivation of liberty, food, housing, employment, or other essentials of life.” (Emphasis added.) 18 I&N Dec. at 457.

While Matter of Laipenieks cited to language that retained the “deliberate imposition of … economic disadvantage” wording from Kovac, it substituted the word “substantial” for “severe.” Furthermore, the Laipenieks decision explicitly stated that the “deprivation of liberty, food, housing, employment, or other essentials of life” may amount to persecution. It is worth noting that Matter of Laipenieks was reversed on other grounds by the Ninth Circuit in Laipenieks v. I.N.S., 750 F.2d 1427 (9th Cir. 1985).

However, Matter of Laipenieks did not discuss the issue further than its citation to the Congressional report. The Board made another brief but significant note on the issue in its March 1, 1985 decision in Matter of Acosta, 19 I&N Dec. 211 (BIA 1985) [PDF version]. Here, the Board stated, “[Persecution] can also consist of economic deprivation or restrictions so severe that they constitute a threat to an individual's life or freedom.” Interestingly, in support of this characterization the Board cited for this proposition to its decisions in Matter of Salama, 11 I&N Dec. 536 (BIA 1966) [PDF version], and Matter of Eusaph, and to the Third Circuit decision in Dunat v. Hurney. 19 I&N Dec. at 222. The Board also reaffirmed the proposition, subsequent to the passage of the refugee and asylum provisions in 1980, that “a desire to experience greater economic advantage” is not a ground for either asylum or withholding of deportation. Id. at 221.

However, neither Matter of Lapenieks nor Matter of Acosta would be followed by the Board consistently in the coming years on the issue of economic persecution. Firstly, it is worth noting, as we will discuss later in the article, that neither of these decisions clarified the status of the Dunat and Kovac standards. Furthermore, in subsequent cases, the Board in some instances cited to the Dunat standard while in other cases to the Kovac standard when adjudicating economic persecution claims, while never clarifying or referring back to its statement in Matter of Acosta, 19 I&N Dec. at 222. In the next section, we will examine this issue and the reappearance of Matter of Laipenieks and Matter of Acosta in the Board's definitive 2007 decision on economic persecution.

Development of Current BIA Precedent on “Economic Deprivation”

On May 9, 2007, the BIA issued its most comprehensive and recent precedent decision on the issue of when economic deprivation constitutes persecution in Matter of T-Z-, 24 I&N Dec. 163 (BIA 2007) [PDF version]. The decision is most significant for its resolution of the question of which standard governs economic persecution claims. However, it is also notable for the fact that it deals with the current statutes for withholding of removal, found in section 241(b)(3) of the INA, instead of the old section 243(h), which provided for suspension of deportation. Applications for withholding are now considered under section 241(b)(3), except for limited cases outlined in 8 C.F.R. 208.16(d)(3): “Section 243(h)(3) of the [INA] … shall only apply to applications [for withholding] in proceedings commenced before April 1, 1997, and in which final action had not been taken before April 24, 1996” [see section on applying and see section on adjudicating applications for withholding for more details]. In this section, we will examine the general rules regarding when economic deprivation constitutes “persecution” in Matter of T-Z-.

Second Circuit Notes that Board Lacked Standard for Evaluating Economic Persecution

Prior to the Board's decision in Matter of T-Z-, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Mirzoyan v. Gonzales, 457 F.3d 217 (2d Cir. 2006) [PDF version], that it could not discern what standard the BIA employed when assessing claims of economic persecution. The Second Circuit noted that, notwithstanding the more recent decision of Matter of Acosta, the Board had cited to the old Dunat precedent in rejecting an economic persecution claim in 1991 in Matter of D-L- & A-M-, 20 I&N Dec. 409 (BIA 1991) [PDF version]. 457 F.3d at 222. However, the Second Circuit considered the possibility that “[t]he return of the Dunat standard may be an aberration, given that the BIA referenced the Kovac standard in cases decided both before and after Matter of D-L- & A-M-.” Id. To this effect, the Second Circuit offered two examples. First, prior to Matter of D-L- & A-M- and after Matter of Acosta, the Board cited favorably to the Kovac standard in Matter of Barrera, 19 I&N Dec. 837, 847 (BIA 1989) [PDF version]. Id. Subsequent to Matter of D-L- & A-M-, the Second Circuit observed, the Board had noted in Matter of H-M-, 20 I&N Dec. 683, 687 (BIA 1993) [PDF version], that the respondent had cited to Kovac in his brief. Id. Regarding Matter of H-M-, the Second Circuit concluded that, while “the BIA did not explicitly adopt a standard for economic persecution claims, [] it seemed to assume that the respondents had invoked the correct standard by citing Kovac. Id. at 691.” 457 F.3d at 222. The Second Circuit noted, as we mentioned before, that the Board had not relied upon Matter of Acosta in subsequent decisions nor did it clarify what effect, if any, Matter of Acosta had on standards developed prior to 1980 with regard to economic persecution claims. Id.

Accordingly, for the following reasons the Second Circuit remanded Mirzoyan to the Board for clarification on the standard governing economic persecution claims. Id. at 224. First, due to the Board's inability to articulate a rule, the Second Circuit determined that the decision of the Board was not entitled to administrative deference. Id. at 223. Second, the Second Circuit noted that the outcome of the case would possibly differ depending on whether the more stringent standards in Dunat and Matter of Acosta controlled or whether the standard in Kovac controlled . Id. at 223.

Board Adopts Standard Described in Laipenieks and Acosta

The Board ultimately resolved the issue in a different case, Matter of T-Z.(BIA 2007) [PDF version] After acknowledging the Mirzoyan decision, the Board stated that “in considering economic persecution, we apply the standard for evaluating nonphysical forms of suffering or harm referred to in Matter of Laipenieks, 18 I&N Dec. 433 (BIA 1983)…” 24 I&N Dec. at 171. To this effect, the Board cited to the HR report quoted in Matter of Laipenieks at 18 I&N Dec. at 457 [see section].

The Board explained that “[t]he formulation in the 1978 House Report encapsulates the forms of nonphysical harm, including economic harm, that may amount to persecution.” (Emphasis added.) 24 I&N Dec. at 171. From the passage and the later formulation in Matter of Acosta, the Board stated that economic persecution may:

  • Involve the deliberate deprivation of basic necessities such that life or freedom is threatened; or
  • Involve situations such as “an extraordinarily severe fine or wholesale seizure of assets that may be so severe as to amount to persecution, even though the basic necessities of life may still be attainable.” (Internal citation omitted.) Id.

The Board noted that these forms of persecution are covered by Kovac's “economic disadvantage” test, which was cited to in the HR report, while adding that the Kovac test “is somewhat broader than the Acosta formulation.” Id.

The Board noted that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had already applied the standard for nonphysical persecution found in the 1978 HR and endorsed by the Board in Matter of Laipenieks. For example, the most recent Fifth Circuit decision to have done at the time was Zhao v. Gonzales, 404 F.3d 295, 307 (5th Cir. 2005) [PDF version]. Id. The Board also noted that the Third Circuit had referenced “severe economic disadvantage which could threaten [a] family's freedom if not their lives” as an example of harm that would rise to the level of persecution in Li v. Attorney General of the U.S., 400 F.3d 157, 169 (3d Cir. 2005) [PDF version]. Id. at 172. (Note: Although not stated in the BIA decision, the Third Circuit recognized that its 1961 Dunat decision had been superseded by subsequent changes to the relevant statutes, and it instead followed Matter of Acosta and its own decision (authored by now-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito) in Fatin v. INS, 12 F.3d 1233 (3d Cir. 1993) [PDF version]). The Board also found that the Ninth Circuit — which had published Kovac in 1969 — had “combine[d] the Kovac formulation with a reference to the Acosta 'threat to life or freedom benchmark for severity of harm” in Zehatye v. Gonzales, 453 F.3d 1182, 1186 (9th Cir. 2006) [PDF version]. Id. In Zehayte, while the Ninth Circuit kept the Kovac language regarding “substantial economic disadvantage” (emphasis added), it adopted the Matter of Acosta language that the disadvantage must pose a “threat to life or freedom.” See also Gormley v. Ashcroft, 364 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2004) [PDF version]. Id.

Significance of the “Severe” Requirement

The Board then addressed the significance of the substitution of the word “severe” in the HR report and Matter of Acosta for “substantial” as used in Kovac. The Board noted that the HR report “also recognizes that 'the deprivation of liberty, food, housing, employment or other essentials of life' may amount to persecution.” The Board stated that the use of the word “severe” reflected the fact that, in the words of the Ninth Circuit in Nagoulko v. INS, 333 F.3d 1012, 1016 (9th Cir. 2003) [PDF version], “[persecution is an] extreme concept that does not include every sort of treatment our society regards as offensive” (internal citation omitted). Id. In INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421, 439 (1987) [PDF version], the Supreme Court of the United States held that a fear of persecution is well-founded in cases in which an applicant “can establish, to a reasonable degree, that his continued stay in his country of origin has become intolerable to him for the reasons stated in the definition, or would for the same reasons be intolerable if he stayed there” (quoting Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, Ch. II B(2)(a) § 42 (Geneva 1979)). Id. at 173.

The Board took the position that the use of the word “intolerable” in describing the requisite harm for “persecution” “supports setting the minimum threshold for economic persecution at 'severe economic disadvantage.'” Id. Accordingly, the Board formally adopted its statement from Matter of Acosta 22 years earlier as the governing standard for claims of economic persecution. In light of this standard, the Board stated that, “to the extent that use of the term 'substantial' in the Kovac formulation may suggest a lesser standard than the term 'severe' in the House Report's formulation, we endorse the House Report's requirement that an applicant for asylum must demonstrate a 'severe economic disadvantage.'” Id. Here, it is important to recall that the Second Circuit found the distinction between “severe” in Matter of Acosta and “substantial” in Kovac significant enough to conclude that it may affect the resolution of certain cases.

The Board cited to the Third Circuit decision in Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 341 F.3d 214 (3d Cir. 2003) [PDF version], for the proposition that “mere economic discrimination” is insufficient to establish persecution. Id. The Board also cited favorably to the pre-Kovac Second Circuit decision in Cheng Kai Fu v. INS, 386 F.2d 750, 753 (2d Cir. 1967) [PDF version], to explain that “[t]he economic difficulties must be above and beyond those generally shared by others in the country of origin and involve noticeably more than the loss of social advantages and physical comforts.” Id. Quoting from the HR report (internal citation omitted), the Board articulated that the harm involved must be “of a deliberate and severe nature and such that is condemned by civilized governments.” Id.

“Total Deprivation of Livelihood” Not Required

However, while the Board's rule in Matter of T-Z- was narrower than that in Kovac, the Board noted that it was also broader than the Dunat rule. The Board stated that “[a]n applicant … need not demonstrate a total deprivation of livelihood or a total withdrawal of all economic opportunity in order to demonstrate harm amounting to persecution.” Id. The Board cited to Li v. Attorney General of the U.S., 400 F.3d at 168, in rejecting Dunat's “total deprivation of livelihood standard.” 24 I&N Dec. at 173. The Board observed that the “total deprivation of livelihood” standard had also recently been rejected by the Seventh Circuit in Koval v. Gonzales, 418 F.3d 798, 806 (7th Cir. 2005) [PDF version].

The Board emphasized that certain types of economic deprivation may thus amount to persecution even though the applicant “could otherwise survive.” Id. at 174. For example, it stated that “[g]overnment sanctions that reduce an applicant to an impoverished existence may amount to persecution even if the victim retains the ability to afford the bare essentials of life.” Id. It also listed the following examples of cases involving economic deprivation that could rise to the level of persecution:

  • A particularly onerous fire;
  • A large-scale confiscation of property; or
  • A Sweeping limitation of opportunities to continue to work in an established profession or business.

However, with regard to the final example, the Board stated that “a compulsory change in occupation is least likely to qualify as persecution by itself. Id. To this effect, it cited to Matter of Acosta, 19 I&N Dec. at 234, wherein the Board held that an alien who had to change jobs to avoid a guerilla threat did not establish persecution on that basis. Id.

Cases Cited to in Matter of T-Z-

Although we will examine specific cases in more detail in our next article, it is worth examining a selection of cases cited to by the Board in Matter of T-Z- for guidance on “assessing whether economic harm is sufficiently severe to amount to persecution.” Id.

The facts presented must be sufficient to rise to the level of “economic persecution.” The Board noted that in Guan Shan Liao v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 293 F.3d 61, 70 (2d Cir. 2002) [PDF version], the Second Circuit rejected an economic persecution claim because “[n]o testimony or other evidence was presented regarding petitioner's income in China, his net worth at the time of the fines, or any other facts that would make it possible for us to evaluate his personal financial circumstances in relation to the fines.” (Passage quoted by the Board.) Id.

The Board observed that courts had considered whether the applicant had available to him or her other sources of income in evaluating economic persecution claims. In Capric v. Ashcroft, 355 F.3d 1075, 1092-93 (7th Cir. 2004) [PDF version], the Seventh Circuit found that the applicant's loss of a job and apartment on a protected ground did not rise to the level of economic persecution where (quoting from the Board) “the government had given him 8 months to find a new residence, his wife had remained employed, he had not attempted to find other work, and the regional and economic conditions in general were harsh.” Id. In Khourassany v. INS, 208 F.3d 1096, 1101 (9th Cir. 2000) [PDF version], the Ninth Circuit rejected an economic persecution claim based on the forced closure of the applicant's restaurant in part because he was able to continue operating other businesses. Id.

In other cases, the Board explained, courts had found that a combination of circumstances involving the imposition of severe economic disadvantage and other forms of nonphysical harm could support a claim of persecution. For example, the Board cited to Li v. Attorney General of the U.S, 400 F.3d 157, 169, wherein the Third Circuit stated that, “[i]n the aggregate, a fine of more than a year and a half's salary; blacklisting from any government employment and from most forms of legitimate employment; the loss of health benefits, school tuition, and food rations; and the confiscation of household furniture and appliances from a relatively poor family constitute deliberate imposition of severe economic disadvantage which could threaten [the] family's freedom if not their lives.” 24 I&N Dec. at 174-75.

See Companion Article For Discussion of Rule As Applied to Facts in Matter of T-Z-

We will discuss how the Board has applied the rule established in Matter of T-Z- in our companion article on important administrative and judicial precedent on economic persecution. Please see the relevant section of our companion article for more information [see section].

Conclusion and Summary of Rule

The law on economic persecution has evolved steadily from the early 1960s. By tracing the development of the law and precedents over time, one gains a better understanding of the factors that may constitute “economic persecution” in both the asylum and the withholding of removal contexts.

In order for economic deprivation to rise to the level of persecution, the applicant for asylum or withholding of removal must establish “the deliberate imposition of severe economic disadvantage.” Other forms of non-physical persecution include “the deprivation of liberty, food, housing, employment, or other essentials of life.” In order for economic disadvantage to be “severe,” it must rise to a level of harm that is “intolerable.” However, it need not rise to the level of “total deprivation of livelihood.” It is possible for an applicant to establish economic persecution in a case where he or she could survive despite the persecution.

It is important to recognize that Matter of T-Z- establishes a general rule that will be applied to the facts presented in a specific case in which the petitioner bears the burden of proof. Whether any given set of facts will be determined to rise to the level of “economic persecution” will depend on a case-specific analysis. As the examples selected by the Board indicate, an applicant may rely on evidence of any number of factors and circumstances to meet his or her burden of proof for establishing economic persecution. It is imperative for an applicant seeking asylum, withholding of removal, or any other form of immigration relief to consult with an experienced immigration attorney immediately. The asylum and withholding process is extremely complicated, and having an experienced immigration attorney will help ensure that an applicant is able to navigate the process correctly and present his or her best possible case for relief under the immigration laws.

Now that you have read about the development of the law on economic persecution, please see our article on important administrative and judicial decisions on the subject that apply the different rules to specific facts [see article].