Asylum grant rates following medical evaluations of maltreatment among political asylum applicants in the United States

J Immigr Minor Health. 2008 Feb;10(1):7-15. doi: 10.1007/s10903-007-9056-8.


Although many individuals applying for political asylum allege maltreatment and sometimes torture in their countries of origin, the utility of medical evaluations in asylum adjudication has not been documented. This study compares the asylum grant rate among US asylum seekers who received medical evaluations from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), with rates among asylum seekers who did not receive PHR evaluations. Retrospective analysis was carried out on all asylum cases referred to PHR between 2000 and 2004 for medical evaluations for which adjudication outcome was available. Basic demographic information was obtained: age, sex, country of origin, English language ability, US region where adjudication occurred, whether legal representation was pro bono, type of evaluation, provision of oral court testimony, and whether asylum seekers were in detention. Cases were analyzed descriptively and with chi square tests. Between 2000 and 2004, 1663 asylum seekers received medical evaluations from PHR; the adjudication status (either granted or denied) was determined in 746 cases at the time of the study. Of these cases, 89% were granted asylum, compared to the national average of 37.5% among US asylum seekers who did not receive PHR evaluations. Medical evaluations may be critical in the adjudications of asylum cases when maltreatment is alleged.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emigration and Immigration / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Refugees / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survivors / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*