What is Credible Fear?

Those that come to the United States do so for a variety of reasons, including to study, work, marry, or to escape dangerous circumstances in their homeland. Those who fear persecution in their country can seek a form of protection called asylum. Yet, not all applications for asylum are granted. United States immigration officers must believe the asylum seeker has a credible fear of returning to their homeland. If an asylum seeker can establish credible fear, they cannot be deported while their asylum case is being processed. If you have questions about the status of your asylum case, seek the counsel of a Philadelphia immigration lawyer.

Defining Credible Fear

The process begins when a foreign national arrives at the United States border and tells border patrol officials they have a fear of returning home and want to seek asylum. Individuals who are questioned and/or detained in the United States may also express their fear to immigration officers. Officers will evaluate asylum seekers to determine if that fear is indeed credible.

After you express your fear and the desire to seek asylum, you are detained until the interview process. During a credible review screening, the Asylum Officer (AO) evaluates whether you have a credible fear of returning because of past persecution or a legitimate fear that you will be persecuted or tortured in the future because of your:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Under United States Citizenship and Immigration Services standards, persecution must meet three requirements:

  • It must involve an intent to target a belief or characteristic
  • It must involve a severe level of harm
  • The harm or suffering must be inflicted by a country’s government or by an entity that the government was unable to control

If the AO finds credible fear exists, your case moves to immigration court where it will be determined during a hearing. If the AO does not find credible fear, you can ask an Immigration Judge to review your request. If you choose not to, you may be deported or leave the United States voluntarily.

Bars to Asylum

Certain circumstances make it difficult to obtain asylum or withholding of removal, including:

  • Persecution of others
  • Conviction of a serious crime
  • Evidence of committing a serious, nonpolitical crime outside of the United States
  • Terrorist activity or association with suspected terrorists
  • Potential of posing a danger to national security

In most cases, if a mandatory bar applies to your situation, but you have a credible fear of torture in your home country, the Immigration Judge may grant a deferral of removal.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate for Clients Seeking Protection in the United States

For anyone fearful of persecution or torture back home, there is much at stake. At Surin & Griffin, P.C., our Philadelphia immigration lawyers understand the urgency of your situation and will work quickly and effectively on your behalf so you can remain in the United States. If you have questions about the asylum process or an upcoming credible fear interview, call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation.