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#USImmigrationLaw: Handling a Credible Fear Interview

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

If you have a credible fear interview, do not be afraid. This is an opportunity for you to tell your story to the immigration authorities, provide proof, and answer questions that will convince them you must stay in the US for humanitarian reasons. It is your chance to defend against removal.

This is important when it comes to an asylum claim, which is based on persecution at home. If you have a credible fear that you will be persecuted or tortured if you are forced to return, you will say so to an actual person with the power to help with your defensive asylum application. And you don't have to tell your story alone, or even speak English. You can have an interpreter to speak on your behalf and a lawyer to represent you.

Supporting a Claim

Asylum applications are humanitarian claims. They are specific. What you need to prove your claim depends on why you say you were persecuted at home, whether political, religious, or other reasons. In the context of a credible fear interview, the authorities already plan to oust you from the country, but you are asking for a humanitarian grant, an exception based on human rights law.

Say, for example, that you are applying for asylum based on your involvement with a political group and you must show that you have a credible fear for your life if you return. Prepare to discuss this, specifically. What else can you use to support this claim? Do you have articles from newspapers? Are there humanitarian groups working on these issues with reports you could submit? Do you have contact with people at home who have warned you about returning? Do you have affidavits from academic experts, for example, political science professors who specialize in your part of the world? A lawyer can help with this preparation.

Tell Your Story

At this point, you are asking for relief, so be thorough in your explanations. Immigration authorities are accustomed to handling these cases and to communicating with foreign nationals, and you should not be shy about sharing scary facts -- quite the opposite. The right answer is the truth in your situation -- what in the past and present indicates that you are in danger if you go back?

The key is to say what happened to you, explain what may happen if you return -- why your fear is credible -- and why you believe you're in danger. If your fear is found credible, you can proceed with your asylum application and will not be removed immediately.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have an immigration issue of any kind, do not handle it alone. The law is complex and there are always exceptions to rules, so you should not assume your chances of success before consulting with counsel. Many immigration attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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