Ashot, Vergine, and Haik Gasparian are citizens and natives of Armenia. The Gasparians entered the U.S. in the early 90s, and overstayed their visitors' visas. They admit they never intended to return to Armenia, where they had received threats due to Ashot's business dealings with an Azerbaijani man in the late 70s.
In 1994, Ashot filed a request for asylum and withholding of removal for the family. The immigration judge (IJ) denied the Gasparians' applications in 1995, expressing doubt about harassment through the early 90s for business activities ending in 1978. The IJ concluded, in any event, that the threats did not lead to harm nor were the threateners connected to the government.