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What is credible fear?

To say immigration law is complicated is an understatement. There are many categories for entry and the right to stay in the country legally—just as there are many cases where deportation occurs. One term that comes up is “credible fear.” At its core, credible fear means that an immigrant’s safety is in jeopardy if they return to their home country.

Of course, there are many different definitions when it comes to threats and security. When war ravages a country, immigrants become refugees because their home is destroyed or their people are persecuted. However, there are domestic level safety issues as well, such as human trafficking, gang violence or domestic violence. Women and children are historically more vulnerable in these cases, where returning home might expose them to further harm.

Escaping trouble, seeking safety

When someone enters the US to escape this trouble, the credible fear for their life provides reason to stay. When there is no legal classification as a refugee, the term asylee applies.

Because fear is difficult to define, legal interpretations are inconsistent. Under the Trump administration, immigration officers have greater discretion, while previous administrations relied on the court to make a decision. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you categorize your situation and define the level of threat you face.

Where you fit amid many categories

Immigrants seek a better life: one where their family can be safe from dangerous circumstances beyond their control. When you start over in a new country, often without planning ahead, it creates an emotional, physical and financial strain on everyone involved. The US has always been a place for refuge, fresh starts and to respect basic human rights. The credible fear argument is one example.

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