The U.S. has a history of welcoming persecuted individuals from countries around the globe. Consequently, if a person has either a history of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution, he or she may be eligible for asylum in the U.S.
Asylum seekers do not have to have a visa or another type of permission to enter the U.S. If immigration officers catch the person at the border, though, they may try to expedite removal. Before doing so, officers should conduct a credible fear interview.
The purpose of the interview
To qualify for asylum in the U.S., a person must fear persecution in his or her home country. To determine if a person has the requisite fear, immigration officers must ask. If an individual responds affirmatively, immigration authorities should schedule a credible fear interview. Answering negatively may result in the person’s fast removal from the U.S.
The interview process
Immigration officials should give individuals at least 48 hours to prepare for a credible fear interview. At the interview, an officer asks questions about the person’s background with the assistance of an interpreter if necessary. Then, the officer asks questions about the person’s fear of returning to his or her country of origin.
The basis of the credible fear
During the interview, the officer focuses on the credibility of asylum applicant’s fear. He or she also gauges whether the fear is due to persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Determining the basis of the credible fear is important for immigration purposes. After all, asylum law requires applicants to fear persecution for a legally recognized reason.