Can undocumented immigrants with credible fear stay in the U.S.?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2023 | Refugees

Not all countries are safe for all citizens. Some countries pose dangers to a citizen’s life and well-being that causes that citizen to flee their home nation and seek refuge in the United States. These people are referred to as asylees.

Sometimes an asylee must enter the U.S. without documentation. If so, they will be removed from the country following specific court proceedings. However, under the right circumstances they might be allowed to remain in the nation as an asylee.

What is a credible fear?

If an asylee is assigned to expedited removal, they will be allowed to stay in the U.S. if they indicate they intend to apply for asylum due to a credible fear. A credible fear might be persecution or torture should they be returned to their nation of origin.

The credible fear process

If an asylee expresses a credible fear, they will attend a credible fear screening interview. At this interview a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer will decide if the undocumented immigrant has a credible fear that would allow them to apply for asylum.

If it is determined that the immigrant has a legitimate credible fear, the USCIS has two options.

The USCIS can consider the immigrant’s application for asylum along with their eligibility to stay in the U.S. per the Convention Against Torture (CAT) by conducting a second interview. This interview is referred to as an Asylum Merits Interview. It will determine if the immigrant can stay in the U.S. as an asylee.

Alternatively, the USCIS can have an immigration judge consider the immigrant’s application for asylum along with their eligibility to stay in the U.S. per their CAT claims. This is referred to as the “defensive” asylum process.

Having a credible fear can be key to staying in the U.S. as an asylee under federal immigration law. Still, certain legal processes must be followed to determine if this is possible. Asylees with a credible fear deserve to have their chance to stay in the U.S. for their own safety and well-being.