When you apply for asylum in the United States, you must meet certain standards. Most importantly, the standard of what is known as credible fear must be met. Due to the current immigration crisis in the U.S., there is a lot of misinformation about the credible fear standard. Even among those who are in the know, there is discussion that insinuates dissatisfaction. It is important to understand what must be shown when seeking asylum, and very often an expert’s help can greatly smooth out the process.
What is Credible Fear?
Many believe that the credible fear standard is all that must be met in order to qualify for asylum. However, this is not the case. The credible fear standard is the first of many criterion that a potential asylee must satisfy.
The wording of the standard set out in the law is somewhat problematic, and makes it especially difficult for one without an immigration attorney to parse it correctly. Section 235(b)(1)(B)(v) of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) lays it out as “a significant possibility, taking into account the credibility of the statements made by the alien in support of his or her claim and such other facts as are known to the officer, that the alien could establish eligibility for asylum under [INA].” In short, the standard of credible fear is, under the law, a standard which shows a ‘possibility’ that one might qualify for asylum. This is somewhat of a tautology.
It is important to understand that credible fear is not determined by an immigration judge, at least not initially. This is referred to as a threshold determination. If this standard is not met, you may not even have the opportunity to apply for asylum. When you arrive and indicate that you wish to apply for asylum, an asylum officer will conduct an interview aimed at discovering reasons why you believe it is unsafe to return to your home country. If the officer believes you have demonstrated sufficient reason, he or she will send your case to an immigration judge for a full hearing. If not, deportation may quickly occur.
If you are found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, you will have the opportunity to apply for asylum and withholding of removal (basically asking the immigration judge to exercise their discretion and allow you to remain in the U.S.).
Problems and Unusual Circumstances
Given the U.S.’s current backlog of immigration and asylum claims, some bending of the rules has occurred with deleterious consequences to potential asylees. Some USCIS officers are unfairly cutting corners with regard to credible fear interviews. At times officers will ask detainees questions that they do not understand, are too complex, or are in English words unfamiliar to non-native speakers. These decisions may be appealed, but an unfamiliarity with English and the general psychological trauma of the immigration environment stops many from doing so.
Also, on the southern border where many undocumented immigrants are being held in facilities like the one in Artesia, New Mexico, a culture of speed at all costs has led to some credible fear interviews being conducted in the most perfunctory of fashions. Some have been conducted without the presence of attorneys or without the detainees even having the opportunity in some cases to obtain an attorney.
Contact an Immigration Attorney Today
It is important to understand the standards that must be met, and to know your rights, if you are in a situation of wanting to apply for asylum. If you need help, get in touch with the experienced DuPage County immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC at our DuPage County, IL office for a free consultation.
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