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PSG Particular Social Group (PSG) stands as one of the principal pillars upon which asylum claims can be grounded. This designation is pivotal for those seeking refuge from persecution, as it forms part of the quintet of characteristics protected under immigration statutes. This article sheds light on particular social groups, explicates the process of recognition as a PSG member, and underscores the role of an immigration psychology evaluation in substantiating the deleterious effects of persecution from a foreign country.

 Five Categories of particular social group to Apply for Asylum

Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign national may apply for asylum if they have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of future persecution due to:

  •     Race
  •     Religion
  •     Nationality
  •     Membership in a particular social group
  •     Political opinion


Each category encompasses various circumstances, but it is the “particular social group” that will be discussed.

 What Is a Particular Social Group?

Historically, U.S. courts have recognized several particular social groups. Defining a PSG is complex, but fundamentally, it comprises individuals who share a common immutable characteristic, that is expected not to change and this characteristic becomes the reason for persecution.  These may include, but are not limited to, groups defined by familial ties, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and race. 

To claim asylum on the grounds of membership in a particular social group, individuals must provide evidence that they have been targeted for persecution. The broad definition is vital to encompass all those who may not fit into other asylum categories but face real and severe persecution. The example of women subjected to domestic violence where they have no protection from the authorities illustrates this category’s necessity. In such cases, the shared characteristic is gender coupled with the societal context of their home country, which allows such violence to occur with impunity.

 How To Be Recognized as a Member of a PSG

Recognizing the complexity and diversity of particular social groups claims, immigration authorities examine each case with careful consideration of the individual’s circumstances, the nature of the unchangeable characteristic, and the societal context from which they come.

 A particular social group encompasses an intrinsic and often inherent characteristic that members cannot change. The law requires that members of a PSG possess traits or characteristics so fundamental to their identities or consciences that the members should not be forced to renounce them. These characteristics often embody elements such as kinship ties and background.

 Social visibility is another criterion that has evolved in legal interpretations. It refers to the concept that the group is recognized within their society as a distinct social unit. This does not necessarily mean that the group is easily identifiable by sight, but rather that their shared characteristics are acknowledged by the society in which they live.

 Also, the particular social group is distinct enough that one can determine who is a member and who is not.

Immigration Psychological Evaluation for Particular Social Groups

 For asylum claims based on PSG membership, immigration psychological evaluations play a critical role, particularly when the applicant has suffered persecution in their country of origin. Clinical psychologists can conduct specialized psychological assessments to determine the negative impact of persecution. Such an evaluation can:

  •     Document the psychological effects of persecution and trauma
  •     Establish the severity and nature of mental health symptoms
  •     Provide expert testimony and opinions regarding the clinical findings


At Immigration Psychology, we understand the critical nature of these assessments. We conduct thorough immigration psychology evaluations, focusing on the individual’s psychological state and the negative impact of persecution they have endured. Our evaluators are well-versed in the nuances of how to effectively communicate the psychological effects of persecution.

 We recognize the need for accessibility, which is why we offer complimentary consultations across 39 states. Our services are not limited by geographical barriers, as all evaluations can be conducted via a secure video conference system that is HIPAA Compliant, in addition to in-person consultations. For those in need of an asylum psychological evaluation or those supporting someone in this process, contact us today for a consultation.