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Refugee & Asylum Law: Introduction

Getting Started

Country conditions (or country of origin) information is an important component in the immigration, asylum and refugee processes.  This information provides evidence to support claims of persecution, past (or future) harm, and help provide context and credibility.  

Types of Sources of Information

  • Domestic law (US and non-US)
  • US government reports
  • Foreign government reports
  • International organizations
    • Inter-governmental organizations (IGOs)
    • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • News sources and other media
  • Journal literature and books

Before you start your research

  • Note time frame of event or activities.  You may need historical and current information.
  • Name changes or aliases; acronyms for organizations; country or regional name changes; different names for regional or ethnic groups.
  • Alternate spellings
    • Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire
    • labor or labour
    • Munguki or Mungiki
  • Synonyms or other terms of art:
    • female genital mutilation, female cutting, female circumcision
    • women, gender, girls
  • Understand the politics of the country or region:
  • Information from a client might be incorrect, especially dates and spelling of names.
  • Don’t just search websites using Google - review website pages: publications, annual reports, topical reports, etc.
  • Look for information on the organization or group that is providing the information  – usually in an “about” section on websites.
  • Take notes and download the information you locate. 

Helpful Manuals

Researching and Using Country of Origin Information in RAIO Adjudications (USCIS 2019)
Researching Country of Origin Information (ACCORD 2013).
Ninth Circuit Immigration Outline (2020).
Immigration Court Practice Manual (Executive Office for Immigration Review). 



Guides and Background

The Convention and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country ... ."

This guide focuses on research and resources relating to refugees, migration, human rights, and related issues, such as displaced persons.

Research Guides


Research guides are good sources to consult before and during a research project since they often discuss research methodology and strategy and highlight important print and electronic sources. Listed below are some guide on researching refugee law as well as researching related areas, such as human rights, treaties, and asylum law.

Selected Background and Introductory Sources


These sources are good places to start your research, define terms and concepts, and learn about other materials on point.