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USCIS raises standard for initial credible fear and reasonable fear interviews

  1. Date Announced

    Feb. 13, 2017

    USCIS issues revised lesson plans for training asylum officers, eliminating language reminding officers that credible fear interviews (CFI) and reasonable fear interviews (RFI) are only initial screening interviews rather than full adjudications. The asylum officer is required to make a full credible/reasonable fear determination at the initial interview in place of finding a significant possibility that an immigration judge would later find that the applicant had established a credible/reasonable fear of persecution. [ID# 9]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    Feb. 27, 2017
  3. Subsequent Action

    April 30, 2019

    Further revisions of USCIS Asylum Officer training in making credible fear determinations.

    Lesson Plan Overview: Credible Fear of Persecution and Torture Determinations
  4. Subsequent Action

    November 2, 2020

    On October 31, 2020, a D.C. District Court vacated new credible fear standards contained in USCIS lesson plans. The order applies to both April 2019 and September 2019 versions of the Lesson Plan. The case, Kiakombua v. Wolf (D.D.C. 1:19-cv-01872) was brought in 2019 by IRAP and RAICES.

  5. Subsequent Action

    July 19, 2021

    This Biden administration action affirms the revocation of the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On July 19, 2021, the Biden administration called off its appeal of the district court's vacatur of the Trump-era rule raising the credible fear standard. The rule will therefore remain enjoined. Kiakombua v. Mayorkas (D.C. Cir. 20-cv-5372).

    Feds Call Off Appeal Salvaging Trump-Era Asylum Guidelines
Type of Action: Change in Practice
Subject Matter: Asylum, Withholding and CAT
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Prior Policies

  • At an initial interview, asylum officers previously needed to find only a "significant possibility" that, in a full hearing, an Immigration Judge could deem the applicant credible.

    Credible Fear Screening

Subsequent Actions

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