Does a favorable credible fear determination mean that I have been granted political asylum?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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A finding of credible fear of persecution is not the same as a grant of political asylum. The credible fear interview is merely an initial screening of your situation. Thus, a finding of credible fear is not meant to be a final decision, but rather, a means of deciding which direction your political asylum request will go. The credible fear finding is usually made by a Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry (airport, seaport, land crossing).

Immigration laws do not set out a bright-line test for credible fear, but the general rule requires the immigration officer to find there is a significant possibility, taking into account the credibility of your statements in support of your claim and other facts known to the officer, that you could establish eligibility for asylum. If an immigration officer finds that your fear of persecution is not credible, you will be subject to removal and returned to your native country. However, you can appeal the immigration officer’s finding to an immigration judge.

If the immigration officer makes a finding of credible fear, then you are temporarily allowed to remain in the United States and proceed to a final hearing on your asylum request before an immigration judge. The favorable credible fear finding will remain in effect only until you have completed the asylum process with the immigration judge. The immigration judge will hear your request, receive evidence and testimony, and then make a decision on whether or not to grant your request for political asylum.

Because the result of this asylum hearing is determinative of whether or not you will be allowed to stay in the country, you should be prepared to provide thorough information justifying your request for asylum. You have the burden of proving your need for asylum. If your request is denied, you may appeal the immigration judge’s decision. However, if you do not appeal a ruling against you, the immigration judge’s decision remains final, which means that you will be subject to removal and returned to your native country.

Credible fear screenings and asylum hearings following screenings both move quickly. If you have questions about the best type of evidence to provide or how to appeal a ruling against you, contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible. Delays in processing appeals or meeting filing requirements can result in denial of your request for asylum.

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