Credible Fear vs. Reasonable Fear in Asylum Immigration CasesAccording to the American Immigration Council, non-citizens who are either discovered by, or appear before, a U.S. official “at a port of entry or near the border can be deported quickly in an ‘expedited removal’ process.” The United States is required to comply with domestic and international laws which gives asylum seekers the right to assert that they have a credible or reasonable fear of losing their life or liberty if they are sent back to their home country.

Credible fear screening process

This process is available for:

  • Individuals who are subject to the expedited removal process
  • Who inform a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official they fear being tortured or persecuted if they are sent back or
  • Who inform the CBP they wish to apply for asylum

These individuals are then given a credible fear screening interview. The interview is conducted by an asylum officer.

A credible fear means that the individual can prove he/she has a “significant possibility” of establishing eligibility for asylum or other protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

If the person can show credible fear, then the individual is sent to an immigration court where he/she can then use the defensive asylum application process (one of two standard asylum procedures). If a valid credible fear can’t be shown, then the individual will be ordered deported – though they do have the right to first appeal the denial to a “truncated review process before an immigration judge.”

According to the American Immigration Council, more than 60,000 people were found by the US CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) to have a credible fear, in 2017.

Reasonable fear screening process

This standard is used for people who re-enter the country unlawfully after being deported at a prior time. It’s also used for noncitizens who have criminal convictions. These individuals can request asylum through a reinstatement of removal process.

A reasonable fear interview is conducted by an asylum officer who hears evidence that the individual requesting asylum can show a reasonable possibility of torture, persecution, or removal based on the individual’s politics, nationality religion, race, or because they belong to a specific social group. Showing a reasonable fear is tougher than showing a credible fear.

If the individual shows a reasonable fear, his/her case is submitted to an immigration court: “The person has the opportunity to prove to an immigration judge that he or she is eligible for ‘withholding of removal’ or ‘deferral of removal.’”

Withholding of removal is somewhat different than an asylum request. The requirements for a withholding of removal hearing are generally tougher but narrower than a full asylum request. For example, withholding of removal does not offer a path to lawful permanent residence.

If the asylum officer is not persuaded there is a reasonable fear, the individual can appeal to an immigration judge. If the judge denies the appeal or there is no appeal, the applicant will be deported. If the judge finds there is a reasonable fear, then protection from removal proceedings can take place.

The American Immigration Council reported that slightly more than 3,000 applicants, in 2017, were found to have a reasonable fear.

The immigration laws are very complex. There are different types of hearings. Each hearing type requires different elements of proof. It’s essential to hire an experienced Nashville immigration lawyer like Perry A. Craft to represent your rights. The difference between competent legal counsel and ineffective or no counsel can mean the difference between being deported immediately and being allowed to stay in the United States. For immediate help, contact Law Office of Perry A. Craft. We fight immigration deportation requests. For help now, please call us at 615.239.1899 or fill out our contact form.