The credible fear interview process is a concept in U.S. asylum law that was created to prevent the expedited removal of immigrants who crossed the U.S. border undocumented and who can demonstrate that they have a credible fear of returning to their country because of persecution or torture which therefore leads to withholding of removal or eligibility for asylum.
When a person is apprehended at the border by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer attempting to enter the United States without any documentation, immigration law will deport him or her immediately without the opportunity for a hearing; unless the detained person expresses to the officer a fear of return to the country of origin and requests an intent to apply for asylum, if so, he or she cannot be removed until his or her case is processed.
*The principle of non-refoulement prohibits states under international law from expelling or returning a person to the territory of any country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened or where he or she may suffer torture, inhuman treatment or violation of his or her fundamental human rights.
When a person subject to expedited removal (a summary removal process) indicates an intent to apply for asylum due to fear of persecution and/or torture, the Customs and Border Protection officer must refer him/her to an asylum officer for a *credible fear interview*.
It is very important that the person going for the credible fear interview have the advice of an immigration attorney who has a thorough knowledge of the deportation laws.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AT THE CREDIBLE FEAR INTERVIEW?
First: You will need an immigration attorney to advise you in preparing a strong, coherent and convincing credible fear testimony throughout the process, otherwise the asylum judge may reject your petition; and although there is an option to request a review of this decision before an immigration judge, you’d better approve the interview before the asylum officer.
And second: You will need an attorney to be present during the interview and to oversee that the procedure is conducted in accordance with the immigration laws.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE CREDIBLE FEAR INTERVIEW?
The asylum officer will ask you a series of questions. Initially, he or she will ask you for biographical information such as name, date of birth, and will also ask you questions about your family.
This will be followed by questions related to your fear of returning to your home country.
The answers must be very clear and honest because any inconsistency could negatively affect the asylum application.
The only valid reasons to have a credible fear asylum option are for persecution of: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or for belonging to a specific social group, in this last one are sexual orientation or physical disability.
Reasons such as economic hardship, poverty of the country, lack of work, how good a person you are, will not be accepted in this case.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE INTERVIEW?
If you pass the interview it does NOT mean that you have won the case. It only means that you will have the opportunity to see an immigration judge to ask for asylum.
If the interview is not approved because the asylum officer determines that the immigrant does not have a credible fear of persecution or torture, the person can request a review of his or her case by an immigration judge.
The judge may reverse the decision and allow the immigrant to file an asylum application and waiver of removal, but it is usually not easy to change these decisions, hence the importance of having an immigration attorney to accompany you in the preparation of the credible fear interview and have the opportunity to be able to approve it before the asylum officer.
At the Law Offices of Duque, Kelley and Associates, our immigration attorneys will accompany you in your credible fear asylum process from the preparation of the interview to the end of the process.
Don’t wait until it’s too late – act now!
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