Assume you are in expedited removal proceedings and are found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture. In that case, you may seek asylum before an asylum officer with USCIS or an Immigration Judge with the Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review.

A “Credible Fear of Persecution” is a “significant possibility” that you can establish in an Asylum Merits Interview before an asylum officer or in proceedings before an Immigration Judge that you have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if returned to your country. A “Credible Fear of Torture” is a “significant possibility” that it is more likely than not that you would be subject to torture if returned to your country.

If an asylum officer finds that you have a credible fear of persecution or torture, USCIS may either:

  • Retain and consider your asylum application and your eligibility for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in a second interview (an Asylum Merits Interview). An asylum officer will decide whether you are eligible for asylum; or
  • Issue a Notice to Appear before an Immigration Judge for consideration of your asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT protection claims. When you file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, with the immigration court, it places you in the “defensive” asylum process.


If an asylum officer does not find that you have a credible fear of persecution or torture, and you do not request a review by the Immigration Judge, or the Immigration Judge agrees with the negative credible fear determination, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may remove you from the US.


For questions and consultations, please contact I.S. Law Firm via phone +1 (703) 527-1779 or email: [email protected]