What is a “credible fear” interview when seeking asylum?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2022 | US Immigration Law

The U.S. offers asylum for people who are escaping persecution in their home country or fear that they’ll face persecution or torture for their race, religion, nationality or other characteristics, political views or associations if they return.

If someone is facing expedited removal proceedings by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) because they don’t have the documentation necessary to be here legally, they may request asylum on those grounds. At that point, the asylum officer or other authority will conduct what’s called a “credible fear interview.”

The purpose of that is to ascertain whether or not a person has a credible fear of persecution or torture if they return to their country. Basically, that means they must have either faced persecution in the past or “have a well-founded fear of persecution” because of their identity, political views or “membership in a particular social group.”

If a person is found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, they will be referred to an immigration judge for a full hearing. If it’s determined that they don’t have a credible fear, they can still ask for an immigration judge to review their case.

What can prevent a grant of asylum, even with a credible fear?

Even if a person demonstrates that there’s a “significant” possibility that they’ll face torture or other persecution if they return, there are some cases in which the U.S. won’t grant asylum. These include the following:

  • A person has been convicted of a serious crime or there are reasons to believe they engaged in serious criminal activity in another country (not including crimes that are deemed “political”).
  • They have engaged in the persecution of others for their identity, opinions or memberships.
  • They’ve engaged in (or believed likely to engage in) terrorist actions. That includes membership in a terrorist organization.
  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that they are a danger to the security of the United States.

If a loved one is in this situation, they can and should have legal guidance. This can help ensure that their rights are protected and help them have the best chance of getting the safety and security they’re seeking.