What Are the Key Elements of Proving a Well-Founded Fear of Persecution?

Discussion of how to present key elements of your claim of a well-founded fear of persecution. The key to an asylum claim is proving that you face a well-founded fear of persecution. This well-founded fear standard does not necessarily mean torture, killing, imprisonment, or harassment or that you are specifically targeted for persecution or that you have an economic hardship or a repressive government.

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What Happens at the USCIS Interview for Asylum?

At the asylum interview, an immigration officer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly the INS, will review the alien’s application for asylum to determine whether he or she should be granted status in the United States. The asylum applicant must arrive at the scheduled date and time at the regional service center having jurisdiction over the alien’s place of residence.

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Reasons for Denial of Asylum Applications in the United States

The general purpose of the asylum process is to provide protection for individuals who are subject to persecution in their native country for certain reasons, including political and religious persecution. To that end, there are a couple of tests that must be passed before an individual can qualify for asylum.

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

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).

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What Are Your Options Following Denial of Your Asylum Application?

If an immigration judge denies your asylum application, you have three options: accept the decision, request that your case be reopened, or appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. If you accept the immigration judge’s decision, then removal proceedings will continue against you and, in all likelihood, you will be returned to your native country. On the other hand, requesting to reopen the case or appealing to the Board of Immigration Appeals are possibilities, but require strict compliance with immigration laws and procedures.

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Can I Submit Asylum Documents in a Language Other Than English?

You may submit a document completed in a foriegn language with your asylum application, but it must have a certified English translation with it. The certification must include the name, signature, and address of the person who prepared the translation. When the translator signs to certify the translation, he or she must also date when they completed the translation and state which languages they are fluent in. This certification requirement applies to documents submitted at any stage of your asylum application.

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Will Your Asylum Case Come Before an Immigration Judge?

An immigration judge will hear an asylum case if it falls within one of the following categories: affirmative applicants whose cases were denied by the asylum officer; arriving asylum seekers who are detained under the expedited removal or credible fear procedures; and, those arrested by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are applying for asylum for the first time in immigration court. This latter type of asylum request is known as defensive asylum processing, because the asylum seeker is essentially defending against involuntary removal.

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What Is the Deadline for Seeking Asylum in the United States?

There are two main deadlines to keep in mind if you are seeking asylum. One deadline exists for affirmative asylum processing, while another deadline applies to those requesting defensive asylum processing. If you are already in the United States, but are not currently subject to removal proceedings, you will be seeking asylum through affirmative asylum processing.

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What is a “credible fear interview” with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection?

A credible fear interview is an expedited screening that is conducted after a foreign national informs a Customs and Border Protection officer at a port of entry that he or she has a fear of returning to their native country. The credible fear interview with Customs and Border Protection focuses on three main areas: fear of persecution, fear of torture, and fear of return. As the name implies, these fears must meet a “credible” standard.

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