Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

CALS Asylum Case Research Guide

How to research asylum cases and track human rights conditions by country.

U.S. Immigration: Research Unit

This research office of U.S. Asylum Officers and Refugee Adjudicators is responsible for collection, production and distribution of materials on global human rights conditions. RIC is located at 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. It is technically not open to the public, but in practice, it permits representatives of asylum applicants to visit by appointment. To make an appointment, call 202-272-1609.

They produce excellent reports sometimes found on the Department of Homeland Security web site which is difficult to navigate. This link list most reports from before 2005. Later reports are not provided. Their onsite collection includes reports, periodicals and yearbooks by all of the major human rights groups; the manuals for Asylum Officers training courses; boxes on particular subjects such as "homosexuals" and "gender issues;" and very detailed country conditions information organized by country such as:

  • Index Media Reviews, produced by the Canadian government. These current media reports on several countries are downloaded weekly from Nexis.
  • Newspapers and magazines on human rights conditions in many countries and regions. The most recent issues may not yet have been shelved, so ask for help.
  • For each country, a book called "A Country Study" (e.g., "Angola: A Country Study"), which, although outdated for country conditions, includes good information on what groups and nationalities exist in the country and is therefore useful in making claims of persecution based on nationality .
  • Boxes for each country with very detailed published information about human rights abuses.  Recent cables from US Embassies containing information relevant for asylum cases may will be in the country box.
  • Latest State Department updates of "country condition profiles," and this may be the only place in the country where they are available. Even those that eventually make it to the Refworld come here long before they are on Refworld.

They are neutral between USCIS Counsel and applicants' representatives.  Be polite with RIC staff and respect their need to do their own work even though they may be willing to answer your questions.  RIC staff prefer non-adversarial questions to staff members. It is more appropriate to ask "Do you have some materials on guerrilla movements in Peru?" not "How could I argue that my client's brief participation in a guerrilla movement in Peru should not bar asylum?"