HIAS Statement on Threats to European Jewry

Together with Jews around the world, and indeed all those who are committed to peace, tolerance and co-existence, HIAS deplores the horrific acts of violence in Paris this past week, particularly the targeting and murder of four members of the Jewish community. As an agency founded in the 19th century to help Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in the “old world” find new lives in the United States, HIAS is deeply saddened and alarmed that today anti-Semitism is increasingly rearing its ugly head in Europe and in other places across the globe. We welcome, however, the dedicated efforts of countries like the United States, France and others to combat anti-Semitism.

Recently, HIAS has been receiving an increasing number of inquiries from Jews who are faced with anti-Semitism in democratic countries in Europe and members of the American Jewish community who want to help their fellow Jews. As an organization specializing in refugees and asylum, helping victims of all faiths leave persecution to live in freedom and in dignity in the United States and other countries, we understand these concerns.

To qualify for refugee or asylum status, a person must prove that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution by the government or by forces that the government is unwilling or unable to control. The persecution must be on the basis of the person’s race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, or social group. Very few asylum seekers — Jewish or otherwise — from European democracies such as France, Belgium and Hungary are granted asylum or refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), by the United States or by other countries. Asylum and refugee approval rates are significantly higher for Jews from less developed countries.

As an agency focused on assisting refugees and asylum-seekers, at this time HIAS is not in a position to offer direct assistance for employment visas to the United States, which generally require a sponsoring employer. Individuals seeking such migration opportunities may learn more about them on the State Department web site

People with questions about family-based immigration to the United States should first check the above web site. Additional questions may be directed to info@hias.org

For those who wish to consult with immigration attorneys in the United States or in their own country to assist with immigration needs, we recommend consulting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) attorney referral service. AILA is a reputable nonprofit association of 13,000 lawyers who specialize in U.S. Immigration Law. HIAS urges that you ask any prospective attorney how much he or she will charge for an initial consultation, and for their legal services, prior to working with them.

Jewish people considering moving to Israel should consult with the Jewish Agency for Israel.

People affected by anti-Semitism who still have unanswered questions regarding immigration options to the United States or elsewhere, may contact HIAS at info@hias.org. Please continue to check this website for future developments.

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