The Attorney General has revised the Board of Immigration Appeals’ prior decision finding that family qualifies as a particular social group for asylum and withholding of removal purposes. Instead, the Attorney General stated that “most nuclear families are not inherently socially distinct.” “When an applicant proposes a group composed of a specific family unit, he must show that his proposed group has some greater meaning in society. It is not enough that the family be set apart in the eye of the persecutor, because it is the perception of the relevant society—rather than the perception of the alien’s actual or potential persecutors—that matters.”

“If an applicant claims persecution based on membership in his father’s immediate family, then the adjudicator must ask whether that specific family is ‘set apart, or distinct, from other persons within the society in some significant way.’ It is not sufficient to observe that the applicant’s society (or societies in general) place great significance on the concept of the family. If this were the case, virtually everyone in that society would be a member of a cognizable particular social group. The fact that ‘nuclear families’ or some other widely recognized family unit generally carry societal importance says nothing about whether a specific nuclear family would be ‘recognizable by society at large.’”

The full text of Matter of L-E-A- can be found here: