The Requirements for Credible Fear in an Asylum Claim

To seek refuge in the United States, you must have evidence of “credible fear.” However, the definition of credible fear has become unclear, and many are unfamiliar with the rules set by the USCIS to qualify for asylum. Therefore, understanding the requirement and the characteristics of credible fear in an asylum claim can help you with your application, and also the credible fear interview used to determine if you have a valid claim for asylum.

The Credible Fear of Torture or Persecution

To have a credible fear, you must prove to the immigration courts that you will inevitably be subjected to torture, persecution, or death as defined in the regulations if you were to return to your country.

The Definition of Torture Explored

The definition of torture is defined by Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, and it includes pain or suffering (which can include mental suffering), intentionally inflicted injuries, punishments, discrimination, coercion, intimidation, or further torture instigated by the government or a public official.

Proving Your Case

The immigration judge may take evidence and written statements to determine whether you are at risk of torture or persecution. You can also testify under oath in front of the immigration court.

The judge then makes his or her de novo determination, which decides if there is a significant possibility and whether your statements are credible.

The Asylum Officer Credible Fear Interview

If you claim credible fears for your asylum, you will undergo an interview with an asylum officer. These officers are specifically trained in asylum cases. Their interview is designed to determine if you have a credible fear once you are in the process of deportation.

Some questions they might ask include:

  • Why you left your country;
  • Your fears or concerns about returning to your country;
  • Moreover, whether you would be harmed or not if you returned to your country.

A fear of returning is not “credible” fear. Instead, you must show through evidence that there is a substantial threat to your safety.

Appealing the Officer’s Decision

Sometimes an asylum officer will not find credible fear. In that case, you can request a review by the immigration judge, but do so with the assistance of Udall Shumway, PLC. An attorney can help present your case to the judge and show evidence of your credible fear. Once the judge’s decision is made, it is final.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Credible Fear in an Asylum Claim, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.